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Party for a cause with ‘Cake Boss,’ other TLC stars in Chicago

Buddy Valastro | Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

TLC fans can party with the stars Saturday at the network’s second annual Summer Block Party, a Chicago event featuring music, food, family-friendly games and a chance to give back.

The party is free of charge and lets fans play ring toss with the cast of “Sister Wives,” get their hair and nails done with Theresa Caputo of “Long Island Medium” and take photos against a green screen with Randy Fenoli of “Say Yes to the Dress” at Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr., from noon to 5 p.m. Other attending stars include Chris Jacobs of “My Long Lost Family,” Katherine and Sophie from “DC Cupcakes” and Kate, Mady and Cara from “Kate Plus 8.”

Buddy Valastro of “Cake Boss” will be hosting a cookie decorating station at the event after frosting cupcakes with fans at last year’s Summer Block Party in Philadelphia, which drew more than 3,000 visitors. Valastro rose to fame after the show premiered in 2009 featuring his family’s business, Carlo’s Bakery of Hoboken, New Jersey. He has since opened 12 other bakeries across the country.

“For me, the most important thing is really interacting with and hearing the different stories from the fans — what my show means to them, whether I’m inspiring them to want to bake or go to culinary school or to follow their dreams,” Valastro said in a phone interview. “You hear stories like I remind them of their family or I helped them get through a tough time. Those are the things that keep me going with the show.”

TLC’s Summer Block Party will be held on Saturday, July 16 from noon-5 p.m. at Soldier Field.

TLC’S SUMMER BLOCK PARTY

When: noon to 5 p.m. July 16

Where: Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr.

Admission: free

Info: Tlc.com

Valastro said he travels to Chicago two or three times each year to visit friends and enjoy some of his favorite local dishes, including deep-dish pizza and an Italian beef sandwich.

“Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the country,” he said. “It really to me is the only other city that feels like a city other than New York. The skyscrapers and the people and the hustle and the bustle — when I’m in Chicago, I feel like I’m at home.”

Valstro is currently looking at a few locations in the city to open a bakery, but says it is “tough” given the great food already available.

“Chicago is like New York — we’re blessed to have a lot of great eateries and different cultures from all over the world,” he said. “So whenever you go into a city like that, you go knowing that people are used to having awesome stuff. You up your game going to Chicago.”

Fashion designer Randy Fenoli of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” took pictures with party-goers at last year’s Summer Block Party in Philadelphia. | TLC/Associated Press/Mark Stehle
Fashion designer Randy Fenoli of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” took pictures with party-goers at last year’s Summer Block Party in Philadelphia. | TLC/Associated Press/Mark Stehle

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, will also attend the event as part of the channel’s “Give a Little TLC” campaign. Alongside nonprofit The Pack Shack, Feeding America will encourage attendees to pack 50,000 lunches by the end of the event, which will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“Many people are unaware that one in seven Americans may not know where they’ll find their next meal,” said Angela DePaul, vice president of communication for Feeding America. “The ‘Give A Little TLC’ campaign has increased the visibility of the issue and even helped to raise dollars to provide meals to families across the country.”

For Valastro, helping those who are hungry is a core value of his family, passed on by his father, Buddy Valastro Sr., who grew up in Sicily during World War II.

“[My father] used to tell me that he, his mom and his sister used to split an orange for dinner,” Valastro said. “He knew what it was like to be hungry. At every single one of my bakeries, every night that there’s any extra cake, we give it to the homeless shelter and food pantries in the different cities.”

Whether fans come to meet the stars or to support the cause, Valastro said TLC’s Summer Block Party offers a bit of everything.

“It’s really a great way for the fans and us to get together,” he said. “We don’t always get to interact with the fans and let them know who really we are and what we stand for, and take pictures, sign autographs, hang out. The block party is a great way to do that.”

Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” hit the stage at the 2015 Summer Block Party in Philadelphia. | Mark Stehle/TLC
Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” hit the stage at the 2015 Summer Block Party in Philadelphia. | Mark Stehle/TLC