WGN calls off major block party planned for Evanston’s downtown next month

WGN calls off major block party planned for Evanston’s downtown next month

Not ‘the right time’ in light of the events in Highland Park: Station Director

By Bob Seidenberg

The  WGN’s Morning News show’s plans to bring a mega-live block party event to Evanston’s downtown Friday, Aug. 12 have been called off with the recent events in Highland Park cited as a reason.

Evanston City Council members approved June 27 the WGN News Block Party event as proposed by Downtown Evanston, the group which provides marketing and management services to the downtown.

WGN informed Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, July 7 that it had made “the difficult decision to postpone” this year’s event.

“We don’t feel it’s the right time in light of the recent events in Highland Park,” Dominick Stasi, WGN’s news director, said in a follow-up letter to Coakley.

“You and  the city of Evanston have been fantastic partners through all of this,” he wrote. “When the time is right, we hope we can pick up the planning right where we left off.”

For the event, Chicago’s WGN Morning News show was planning to bring their annual Block Party event to downtown streets, going live with a broadcast from the area  at 6 a.m.

The event would feature music acts, food vendors, and entertainment. It would also give officials the opportunity to talk about the attractions of downtown, rebounding after Covid.

Last year’s event in Naperville drew approximately 10,000 people, said Audrey Thompson, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director, in a memo to the Council at the June 27 meeting.

Evanston was chosen over Oak Park for the venue, partially because of its lakefront, officials said, with WGN planning to film some activities there as part of the show.

Downtown Evanston had already been working on the logistics for this year’s event, including lining up people to speak, ordering the stage and lining up entertainment, Coakley said.

The group is hopeful that WGN will be able pick up where the efforts left off, she said, when the time is ripe.

“It’s such a great opportunity,” she said.

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