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Article updated: 9/17/2013 5:51 PM

Downtown's debut a hit in Lake Zurich

Rock the Block exceeds attendance expectations

Bigger-than-anticipated crowds hit downtown Lake Zurich on Saturday for the inaugural Rock the Block street party.

Bigger-than-anticipated crowds hit downtown Lake Zurich on Saturday for the inaugural Rock the Block street party.

 

Courtesy of Village of Lake Zurich

At least 3,000 cans of food for a local pantry were collected at last Saturday’s inaugural Rock the Block in downtown Lake Zurich. Great Lakes Naval Station personnel helped to collect the food at a tent.

At least 3,000 cans of food for a local pantry were collected at last Saturday's inaugural Rock the Block in downtown Lake Zurich. Great Lakes Naval Station personnel helped to collect the food at a tent.

 

Courtesy of Village of Lake Zurich

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Organizers plan to make adjustments for the next Rock the Block party in downtown Lake Zurich after the debut shattered crowd expectations.

Lake Zurich used last Saturday's street party as a way to show developers the potential for a downtown revitalization. Rock the Block came in the wake of a recent decision by Lake Zurich trustees to spend $115,800 to tear down five village-owned downtown buildings, followed by grooming and seeding of the properties to make them more attractive for mixed-use projects.

Mayor Thomas Poynton said the village-sponsored, all-ages bash attracted an estimated 5,000 visitors from 6 to 11 p.m. on Main Street, between Old Rand Road and Church Street. In part, the crowd estimate was based on 3,500 alcohol wristbands that were sold.

Lake Zurich officials had projected 750 to 1,000 would attend. Poynton said the next Rock the Bock is set for Sept. 13, 2014.

"To me -- and I've said this before -- Rock the Block is not just a logo or a slogan," Poynton said at Monday's village board meeting. "It's the recognition that all village residents, no matter what their differences are, are bound together by a common shared desire to make our village better for everyone who lives here."

Dave Peterson, recreation manager for the village's park and recreation department, led a volunteer committee that organized Rock the Block. He said a meeting is planned for Wednesday on how to improve for next year's edition based on feedback and observations from Saturday.

Peterson said improvements will be made so patrons can make faster purchases of alcohol wristbands, beer and wine. He said organizers also want to avoid a repeat of a roughly one-hour music lull that occurred between the opening band and the main group.

In addition, some food trucks and vendors ran out of menu items because they were prepared for a much smaller crowd. For example, Beelow's Steakhouse in Lake Zurich was out of pork on a stick by about 8:30 p.m.

Peterson said the food operators already have indicted they want to return.

Brisk sales also were experienced by Main Street eateries during Rock the Block.

Although there was no admission charge, patrons were asked to donate three nonperishable items to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Lake Zurich. Peterson said at least 3,000 pounds of canned food were collected at the donation tent, where Great Lakes Naval Station personnel assisted in the effort.

Planning for Rock the Block began after Poynton and the new village board were officially seated in May. Poynton thanked the volunteer committee, which included members of the Rotary Club, Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, local business owners and residents.

Twitter: DHBobSusnjara

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