Thumping beats pumped through Weequahic Park in Newark this Saturday for the First Annual House Music Family and Community Unity Festival, the first of many free SummerMusic Concert Series at the park. Like other Weequahic Park events, the atmosphere was permeated by an easy-going vibe created by singers Sharon Brown, Colonel Abrams and DJ Little Louie Vega.
Besides the live entertainment on the main stage, the park was dotted with food vendors and a bouncy castle for children. The festival, which reportedly drew 5,000 residents, was co-sponsored by the Essex County summer concert series, which will bring a multitude of music to county parks in the coming months.
"The music was nice. It took us back to the day, the club days," said Inez Carter-Gaskin, one of the citizens at the event. "It brings the kids together. Lets the kids see we need to do more things like this, positive things, so they can come out here and enjoy themselves. You see everyone out here? They’re having a good time."
The kids weren’t the only ones who enjoyed themselves. As noted by Charles Mitchell, who planned the event, and the Essex County Freeholder-at-Large Rufus Johnson, the crowd was especially diverse, spanning all ages and races.
"As you can see it's multi-racial out here. House music spreads across the world and across the globe," said Johnson. "It doesn't matter whether you're Latino, German, Irish - house music is what makes you move. We're so delighted to have this cross section of people out here enjoying themselves."
Mitchell added the House Music Festival has a very distinct purpose. "We're about dispelling the culture of disrespect," he said.
Johnson concurred, "We wanted to bring the feeling of love and peace for the summer, and we wanted it for the first Saturday of summer."
Newarkers were more than appreciative, dancing, clapping and singing along to the songs performed on stage. As the day pushed along, the crowd grew larger and larger.
"This gives everybody a chance to get together, to see old friends, to listen to nice music and to see performing artists we haven't seen or heard in years," said Mike Miller, another park patron. "I'm just happy that they continued doing this. I hope it never stops."
Click here for a schedule of other SummerMusic Concert Series events in Essex County.