FOX 32 NEWS - It was a party for peace on Chicago's South Side Friday.
The sound of blues and jazz music from a band in Renaissance Park near St. Sabina Church made people dance and smile. It was a welcome change from the sound of gunfire often heard on Friday nights that makes people duck and run.
“You walk through here tonight and you close your eyes and you hear children playing, children laughing, you hear music. This is what should be the norm in the summertime,” said Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Church.
As people gathered in the park, there was an atmosphere of fun and an opportunity to forget about what many Friday nights have been like in Chicago. There was also food and lots of it. St. Sabina was expected to feed 11-hundred people.
And there were also games for kids.
As the summer winds down, Father Pfleger and an old friend, former US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, were reflective about all the violence that continues to plague Chicago.
“It's a war zone, it's a war zone in the city of Chicago,” Pfleger said.
“We as adults are failing her kids to be very, very clear, and frankly I'm committed to spending the next couple of years of my life with the team working as hard as we can to reduce this violence, create jobs, create opportunity, create hope,” Duncan said.
He is now working with the Emerson Collective, which is an organization focused on finding solutions to social issues.
For those at the peace party, there was no escaping the reality of the dramatic rise in shootings and murders this year in Chicago. But there was a sense of peace and hope.
“It helps people gather, have fun, communicate,” said 13-year-old Jamal Phillips.
“I just purchased a home in this area, like two blocks away, so I feel safe,” said Brittany Dillon, a mother of three who was attending with her kids.