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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

You Can Still Help Light Up King Drive This Holiday Season — Here’s How

“A lot of times on those blocks there’s a lot of blue [police] lights flashing, but we want the kids on those blocks to see some blue holiday lights."

Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, decorates one out of dozens of street lights along King Drive in 2018.
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CHATHAM — Stormy weather may have slowed down a plan to make King Drive as bright as the Mag Mile for the holidays, but My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole still aims to make it shine. 

Cole’s organization, which takes kids from the South and West sides to explore the city and supports local block clubs, is collecting holiday lights to decorate 85 light poles from 71st to 79th Street along King Drive — an eight-mile stretch.

Though the weather kept volunteers away this weekend, Cole said the mission continues — and he still needs supplies (and volunteers).

Originally, the plan was to decorate a few blocks with holiday lights along King Drive, but because of an outpouring of support from local block clubs and residents, the initiative expanded, Cole said.

“A lot of times on those blocks there’s a lot of blue [police] lights flashing, but we want the kids on those blocks to see some blue holiday lights,” he said.

People who live along King Drive between 55th and 87th streets can contact the organization online to request that lights be put up on their home or on trees out front. Those picked will also receive a $25 subsidy for their electric bill.

Besides lights, the group is also asking people to donate extension cords, ladders and other items volunteers will need to arrange the holiday display. Information about donating or volunteering is available online. There’s an Amazon wish list for the event here. 

Since this past weekend was stormy, volunteers will put up the lights during events that start 1 p.m. Dec. 8, Dec. 9 and Dec. 15. Tree lighting events will include hot cocoa, coffee, food, music and more.

Cole said he did not partner with ComEd or the City of Chicago as part of the $25 subsidy offer. The funds raised for the subsidy are completely from donations and sales of My Block, My Hood, My City merchandise.

“This is not anybody giving us money to do it,” he said. “We welcome support from the city, we welcome support from ComEd, but this eight-mile stretch is our idea and the way we want to make impact that’s larger than just the lights.”

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played a significant role in Cole’s decision to pick the street with his namesake. Although he has received requests from additional blocks for holiday decorations, he said his focus is squarely on King Drive this year.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was all about things being interrelated so what happened on 55th Street should matter if I live on Fullerton Avenue,” he said. “We want things to be interrelated so what better way than to come together and hang some lights in the community.”