What started out as a photo contest is now an East Side street festival.
The Esperanza Peace & Justice Center and the Hays Street Bridge Community Coalition host a block party 6-9 p.m. Saturday on the corner of Cherry and Lamar streets on the near East Side. The groups have fought an apartment development at 803 N. Cherry St. they say will block views of the Hays Street Bridge.
The festival's origins can be traced to the Corner of Cherry and Lamar Photo Contest, which is organized by local photographer Kristel A. Orta-Puente. Orta-Puente was out looking to photograph the Hays Street Bridge when she discovered the quiet corner of Cherry and Lamar streets had the perfect view. Puente could see the whole city skyline in the background, perfectly.
“The people who lived there knew, but no one was paying attention,” Puente said.
Now, as a luxury five-story apartment building threatens to ruin that view, the groups have come together to host a block party with the view of the Hays Street Bridge and the city as its backdrop. Some in the neighboring community of Dignowity Hill support the apartments, because they say the area needs private investment. While others, such as those who support the Hays Street Bridge Community Coalition, fear the development will worsen gentrification, as well as block the view of the bridge.
Coalition volunteer Yaneth Flores, who's also a member of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, said planning for the party came together in a matter of weeks. People from the community came together to help pitch in donating food and resources.
"As we lose these spaces, we lose our community and our culture," Flores said.
The free event promises food from Mama Tierra, La Botanica, Sunshine Bakery and Monarch Empanadas; and live performances by Alyson Alonzo, Lonely Horse, Son Queers, Natasha Hernandez, Sulema Mendoza and Agosto Cuellar. Push Rods Car Club and ROLL Models SATX Bike Crew will display their rides.
Photographs of the bridge taken by students with the Martinez Street Women's Center Girl Zone summer camp will be on display. And the winners of the photo contest will be announced that evening.
"The goal of the event is to highlight the community and our public space," Flores said.
Featured photo by Veronica Arnold as submitted to the Corner of Cherry and Lamar Photo Contest