Sharing food is central to the rituals and celebrations of nearly every culture. So it’s no surprise that food played a role in South of Penn’s celebration of culture and community spirit.
The event Saturday showcased resources and businesses in the area bounded by Franklin and Canal Streets and Second and Seventh Streets.
Activities began with an afternoon walking tour of the district with stops at the Reading Public Library, 100 S. Fifth St.; Idea Park, 154 S. Fourth St.; Salvation Army Reading Citadel, 301 S. Fifth St.; and Berks Latino Workforce Development Corp., 450 S. Sixth St.
Samples from area restaurants were served at each stop.
The dozen walkers finished their tour in the 300 block of South Seventh Street, where they joined about 50 area residents and others for the dedication of a wall mural in a once-empty lot.
The festivities ended with a neighborhood cookout and concert on the now-beautified lot, dubbed Lucky’s Lane.
“The food tour celebrates our small-business owners who are chasing their dreams,” said Jada Aviles, coordinator of the South of Penn neighborhood organization.
The group focuses on building relationships among residents, networking, encouraging homeownership, and improving livability in the area.
“The ideas come from the community itself,” she said. “I just kind of drive the boat, and everyone else helps me navigate through it all.”
For Aviles, who grew up in the South-of-Penn area, the day meant more than full stomachs and happy neighbors. It was a chance to familiarize residents and visitors with the amenities in the neighborhood and to make new friends.
“I was born and raised here,” she said. “This is my community.”
The lot transformation and artwork are a dream come true, she said