Dave Chappelle’s Oregon District benefit concert and community event Sunday could draw more than 20,000 people, prompting tons of excitement, plenty of questions about logistics, and a few reminders of what the event’s purpose is.
Organizers said the Gem City Shine is a way to reclaim the neighborhood after the Aug. 4 mass shooting that killed nine people and injured dozens of others before Dayton police shot to death the 24-year-old man responsible.
Corner Kitchen owner Natalie Skilliter said the block party is an event for healing and togetherness.
“We are supportive of and grateful for these and other types of efforts that seek to unite us, and seek to deny the kind of violence that was exhibited here and other places,” said Skilliter, a member of the Oregon District Business Association board.
Dayton Police Major Wendy Stiver asked for patience and kindness for those coming to the event.
“We ask that anyone attending the event remember that we just experienced an unthinkable tragedy. A lot of people in the community were affected, and the people who live and work in the Oregon District deserve to see the best of humanity and community right now. Please bring a positive attitude, respect and sensitivity,” Stiver said.
The 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. event is free, but a ticket is required to attend, and officials said no additional tickets remained Friday.
Free shuttles will run from the UD Arena parking lot to Gem City Shine.
Jessica Olson, Greater Dayton RTA communications manager, said multiple events are happening in downtown Dayton on Sunday, including Families of Addicts’ 6th Annual FOA Rally 4 Recovery and “The Greatest Showman” Sing Along on the lawn at Levitt Pavilion at Dave Hall Plaza.
“We are trying to take to that headache out of it,” Olson said.
Dayton police declined to release specific security details, including how many officers will be present.
However, Chief Richard Biel said Dayton police will “up their game” and added, “We have made some contact with outside agencies.”
An unannounced list of national and local performers is slated to appear at the festival. Rapper Kanye West was spotted at RiverScape MetroPark on Friday afternoon. Additional reports said his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was seen in the Miami Valley.
Dayton native Takiya Robinson was among the first to get her tickets to Gem City Shine. She’s a Chappelle fan who has not been able to attend any of his Juke Joint barn parties on a farm outside of Yellow Springs. More than that, Robinson says she is a fan of the Oregon District.
“(I want) to show that we are not afraid to go down to the Oregon District,” she said. “I think that is the main thing, just a show of solidarity.”
Robinson counts Thai 9, Oregon Express, Goodwill and Wiley’s Comedy Joint among her favorite places to visit in the historic neighborhood.
“It did cross my mind about going down there in such a large crowd, but we cannot be fearful,” she said. “This is our home. We live here. I grew up here. I want there to be happiness. I want to go down there and dance and laugh and experience a good time.”
Val Beerbower of the Downtown Dayton Partnership said to expect long lines at the event’s three entrances: Wayne Avenue and Van Buren Street, Wayne and Fourth Street, and East Fifth Street and Patterson Boulevard. There will be metal detectors, and bags, including purses, will be restricted.
Beerbower said Chappelle and his team are asking people not to use their cellphones during the festivities.
“We are not taking cellphones away, but we are asking people to refrain from using them,” Beerbower said, adding that Chappelle wants people to live in the moment.
Credentialed media will be the only people allowed to use professional camera equipment, she said. The event is firearm-free.
People can obtain a commemorative T-shirt with a minimum donation of $20. Proceeds will benefit The Dayton Foundation’s Oregon District Tragedy Fund.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Friday said: “For us, this site was the place of great entertainment for the entire community and region, so it really only seems appropriate that having a street party of outsized proportion fits with what happened and how we move forward in the district.”
Whaley said she had secured a ticket but knew many who had not.
“Somebody on my Twitter feed said it was like a golden ticket from Willy Wonka. Is that how it is? Is that what’s going on?” she asked.
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