This past Sunday, Harlem came out to see and be seen, play, eat, dance, shoot the dozens, and just be in community at the Thrillist Block Party in the square of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street. This was the first of the Thrillist Block Party series, presented by DoorDash and sponsored by Coca-Cola, Corona Refresca, and Clorox.
After showing vaccination cards, more than 3,000 New Yorkers and Harlemites entered the fun through the arches at 126th Street, off of Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. Once inside, guests were welcomed by the smells of Harlem foods loved by many—67 Orange, Harlem Seafood Soul, Little Hot Dog Wagon, LoLo’s Seafood Shack, Mama’s One Sauce by Vy Higgenssen, Maryam’s Yum Yum, Sugar Hill Creamery, and, of course, Sylvia’s.
Now, this was no ordinary block party. Producer Tren’ness Woods-Black does not play when it comes to her love of Harlem. The day had to be tight and right.
The festivities kicked off with an introduction by Harlem’s own author, radio and TV personality, Ms. Bevy Smith who made us feel right at home (because we were). There were some words from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Thrillist Chief Content Officer Meghan Kirsch, NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie, and Harlem Park to Park Executive Director Nikoa Evans-Hendricks.
Then it was time to eat and patronize the businesses. Shrimp po’ boys, lobster and waffles, crab cake sandwiches, vegan ice cream and more were on hand. The lines might have been a little long at some but The Rakiem Walker Project and Sundae Sermon featuring DJ Stormin’ Norman kept the crowd moving and the spirits high.
We were partying with a purpose on Sunday as Thrillist partnered with Tren’ness Woods-Black and Harlem Park to Park to select Harlem businesses to be featured in the Shop Harlem Made incubator program, receiving micro-grants and pro-bono services. Congratulations to 67 Orange, Karl Franz Williams; Egunsi Foods, Yemisi Awosan; Lee Lee’s Bakery, Alvin Smalls; The Little Hot Dog Wagon, Dawn Demry; Mama’s One Sauce, Vy Higginson; Make My Cake Coffee & Bakeshop, Aliyyah Baylor; Safari Restaurant; Sugar Hill Creamery, Nick & Petrushka Larsen; and Ginjan Juice Ibrahima and Mohammed Diallo.
The day rolled on with a Black Greek fraternity and sorority unity stroll, a gospel open mic, roller-skating, pop-up performances and empowering remarks by Until Freedom co-founder and activist, Tamika Mallory. The culmination was a Harlem parade vogue ballroom exhibition with House of Miyake Mugler.
I left feeling alive and so happy to be of and for this community.
Happy eating and thanks for reading.
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 18 years. She is the new Food Editor at www.TheSpruceEats.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPnyc, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc.
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