The English Avenue Festival of Lights

On Saturday, October 12 at 9.00 am, Proctor Street NW, usually a rather empty street bordered by foreclosed houses and yards colonized by savage vegetation, is beginning to buzz with human presence. People are setting up small tables; from the cars parked on adjacent streets, more people arrive, carrying trays covered by foil and bags and baskets full of leaflets, badges, pens. The 5th annual English Avenue Festival of Lights is about to commence.

Organized by the Historic West Side Cultural Arts Council, the festival of lights in English Avenue now runs for the fifth time. Each year attracting more participants, the festival has become a beacon of communal cohesion in the area's annual calendar. Various church groups, community organizations, and civic groups take up the opportunity to engage with residents from the surrounding neighborhoods. Apart from the presence of the aforementioned groups, the day's program promises an eclectic parade made up of a gamut of participants and premiered by a local high school brass band, a speech by the local councilman Ivory Young, and a history tour around the area organized by students from Georgia Tech. Moreover, there is food and drinks, music, and entertainment for children.

The festival is characterized by joviality, comradeship and intermittent conversations with friends and random individuals. As if suggesting this is what the 'community' -the network of relations created by virtue of residing in the same zip code- can be at its best, the event successfully defies and challenges the surrounding, all-too-present markers of a lack of social well-being. For this Saturday in October 2013, English Avenue is not only resuscitated but, as councilman Young later in his speech proclaims: "English Avenue is alive and well!"

Historic West Side Cultural Arts Council (2013)