Jul. 4—Old friends hugged each other for the first time in months, sporting Como shirts and singing along with hymns belted out by the Lake Como Community Choir. Kids made their way up a huge rock-climbing wall and flailed around in a bounce house. It had the feeling of a giant family reunion, because that's what it was.
The inaugural ComoFest, held on
"It's a new generation with new ideas," Timmons told the crowd. "Things are changing, and they're changing with it. Keep supporting them, and keep supporting Como."
That spirit of change was in the air as community group LEGACY organized its first major event, which attracted hundreds of people to shop from local vendors, dance amid lawn chairs and hear from candidates running for office in 2022.
"That was unity in the community at the highest level," said
The event wrapped around
"What happens on the third of July, that's one thing we have to change," Hudson said on Sunday. "Como didn't get in this condition overnight, so it's not going to get out of this condition overnight."
Creating safe environment at ComoFest
Members of LEGACY faced a difficult task: to create a safe environment for families to celebrate on
Residents have complained in the past about large crowds throwing fireworks and blocking intersections on the night before the parade, the
Finding the balance between using police for crowd control and preventing over-policing of the historically Black neighborhood is complex work, said Estrus Tucker, the facilitator of the
"What we want is the right number (of police) so if something escalates, we want to be able to call them,"
ComoFest's combination of police officers and volunteer security guards on Saturday was a testament to how Como leaders can organize effectively,
Officers helped with blocking off streets for the festivities, and volunteers were stationed at each entrance to ensure compliance with bans on alcohol, fighting and drugs.
"It's much appreciated that the police were there, but what made it work was the buy-in from the community entirely," Hudson said. "Not just the young folks but the old folks as well."
Musician LOA Rooster, who performed at ComoFest and grew up in the neighborhood, told the
"When I pulled up to this, I knew I was safe," he said. "There's always a leveling up that's happening and ... to have a group of men come together and say 'we're going to do this,' and then holding each other to their word, there's a quality there that I was drawn to."
Building next generation of leaders
"We got the blueprint down and know how everything works, how it's supposed to look," he said. "We're doing it for the community, and so for them to actually show up, it makes it feel like all of our work is worth it."
What Como needs is "another dozen LEGACYS" to work on solutions in
"I think we have the potential for creating a variety of groups that are engaged in leading events,"
LEGACY members hope to create that next generation of leaders to follow in their footsteps. On Saturday, parents signed their kids up to be contacted about mentorship opportunities with the group, whose name stands for Leaders Encouraging Greatness Among
That goal is shared by many Como residents past and present, including
"I just want to see people like myself that were born and raised here, that were fortunate enough to graduate, go to college and make something of themselves, to come back and give back," Williams said. "To show this generation that this is not all. There are other opportunities outside the neighborhood that will allow you to come back and do good for the community."
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