Volunteers deck the halls of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

By Justin Anderson, Photojournalist

Volunteers were greeted with food, drink, boxes of decorations and thunderous Christmas music upon their arrival in Tuley Park.

The decorations were part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Lighting in Tuley Park on Sunday, Dec. 8, the second of a four-part event series organized by My Block, My Hood, My City, a local organization that works with youth from underprivileged neighborhoods to explore opportunities beyond their community.

This is the second year My Block, My Hood, My City is putting together the King Drive lightings, and it is expected to be bigger than last December with the new addition of a tree lighting, said Ernesto Gonzalez, community organizer and marketing lead at My Block, My Hood, My City. They plan on decorating 250 homes and nearly 500 street poles from 51st Street to 115th Street on King Drive, which stretches a total of eight miles.

“When we are lighting up these poles and these homes we’re interrupting trauma,” Gonzalez said. “We’re hopefully inspiring other people to do more than is expected.”

My Block, My Hood, My City plans on making the event one of King Drive’s annual staples, said Jahmal Cole, founder of the organization.

“It’s gonna grow bigger every year,” Cole said. “We hope there’s a traffic jam down King Drive five years from now that’ll be so many lights, there’ll be a competition for who has the best home; there’ll be sleighs and reindeers.”

The last two King Drive lighting events will take place in Washington Park on Dec. 14 and in Palmer Park on Dec 15.

“The impact is beyond the lights,” Cole said. “It’s really about inspiring hope with the youth and then interrupting trauma that exists on King Drive.”