‘Parade of Hearts’ aims to show how South Side communities are healing from the pandemic

“Our hope is that people will be inspired by what they see and encouraged to see a new normal,” said LUV Institute Executive Director Cosette Wilburn.

SHARE ‘Parade of Hearts’ aims to show how South Side communities are healing from the pandemic
“Reconnecting” by Damon Lamar Reed

“Reconnecting” by Damon Lamar Reed, outside of Nichols Park in Hyde Park.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

On Saturday, participants in the “Parade of Hearts” bike and walking tour will get a sense of how South Side communities are healing from the COVID pandemic.

To celebrate 10 years of working with underserved youth on the South Side, the LUV Institute will host a tour of its heart art sculptures, 12 pieces made by South Side artists in 2021 to illustrate the “new normal” in their communities.

The 11-mile loop will leave from Mandrake Park in Bronzeville at 9 a.m. Saturday, passing through a number of South Side areas, including the Douglas neighborhood, Grand Boulevard, George Washington Park and Jackson Park before returning to the park located at 3858 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Riders will see nine fiberglass hearts - walkers will see four - which the artists made in consultation with neighborhood residents. Each piece is meant to illustrate the way the community experienced the pandemic and what the “new normal” means for them.

With each piece, “you get a different lens on what it took for each to get through it,” said Linda Upshaw, deputy director of the LUV Institute.

“Reconnecting” by Hyde Park artist Damon Lamar Reed, for instance, features a man with a goatee and deadlocks almost coming out of a computer screen, recalling the hours people spent online chatting with family and friends.

At a few of the hearts, paraders might find the artist there waiting and ready to explain the work, Upshaw said

“Our hope is that people will be inspired by what they see and encouraged to see a new normal,” said LUV Institute Executive Director Cosette Wilburn in a video made about the hearts.

Organizers expect the walk/ride to wrap around noon.

On returning to Mandrake Park, there will be live music playing until 2 p.m. and food trucks featuring tacos.

The hearts will be auctioned off, with bids for the originals starting at $3,000 and $350 for replicas. Bidding closes Sept. 1. Proceeds from the auction will be used to fund next year’s art works, Upshaw said.

The parade is free and open to anyone, although participants are encouraged to register online beforehand.

Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.

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