Sundae Sermon saying goodbye to Morningside Park
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 5/16/2013, 4:33 p.m.
Revelers of Harlem's famed "Sundae Sermon" event are no longer shaking their groove things in Morningside Park. In a recent interview with the AmNews, Norman McHugh, aka DJ Stormin' Norman, announced that this past Sunday was the last time the event would be held in Morningside Park.
While Sundae Sermon will live on once more in 2012 on Sept. 30 in St. Nicholas Park and for summers to come, McHugh said due to conflicts with local residence in the Morningside neighborhood and the Parks Department, he has been told to take the party elsewhere.
"The deal in the beginning was that the Parks Department gave me eight dates this summer," he said. "Then about three weeks before it was supposed to start, they took them away and only gave me four dates, and I was trying to understand why. The reason was that there were too many people in the park."
"Too many people" being about 500 who flock to the top of Morningside Park whenever the event takes place. Sundae Sermon mainly consists of famed DJs playing all types of music while people come to meet, dance and enjoy the summer weather. The event sets up camp near Morningside Drive, where residents live directly across the street near Columbia University.
When McHugh started the event in 2007, attendance was only about 25. However, as word spread, the crowd grew to hundreds, becoming a staple to many people's Sunday routines. The event has become so popular that celebs have been sighted there, including actor Idris Elba and even hip-hop royalty Pete Rock giving the ones and twos a spin.
While paying for the event out of his own pocket, McHugh said Sundae Sermon gets sponsorship from many small businesses in Harlem. Next year, McHugh said that he plans to expand Sundae Sermon by not only having the event at another park in Harlem, but ultimately having a festival featuring live music. Sundae Sermon has already expanded to a radio show on WHCR 90.3 FM and albums featuring music from the event.
But as Sundae Sermon bids adieu to its original Morningside Park home, McHugh realizes that the event is a staple to Harlem and plans to keep it that way.
"It's something that Harlem needs," he said. "Sundae Sermon is about the people, and the people have been a great support. They pull me over on the street all the time and say, 'We need our Sundae Sermon.' It's a testament to Harlem and the things we are doing."