img_3135This past weekend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District, family, friends, community members and public officials gathered for a special ceremony to cut the ribbon on Hadiya Pendleton Park located at 4347 S. Calumet Ave. The park formerly known as Buckthorn Park was renamed after 17-year old student, Hadiya Pendleton who was killed in 2013.

The park expands the land to include a playground, sitting benches, a spray pool, a walking path and exercise stations. The additional parkland which no longer allows vehicle traffic connecting 42nd St. to 43rd St. honors the cultural heritage of Bronzeville with a musically themed walkway featuring a snare drum sculpture, a trumpet, music notes and stacked books.

The ceremony honors the lives of both Pendleton and Vonzell Banks. Banks, a 17-year-old drummer was killed earlier this year. The snare drum sculpture was added to the design as a tribute to the aspiring musician.

img_3185“Any loss of life due to senseless gun violence is unacceptable, especially when it is a child,” Alderman Pat Dowell said. “The spirit of Hadiya Pendleton, a child of Bronzeville, lives on in this park and in the 3rd ward.”

As small children played within a few feet of the podium in which speakers gathered—Mayor Emanuel addressed attendees.

“Not only are we are honoring the lives of Hadiya and Vonzell, but we are also harnessing the power of this neighborhood,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Hadiya Pendleton Park is a place for the community where neighbors can gather, children will play and memories are made.”

img_3156Both Hadiya’s parents were in attendance and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton felt comfort hearing the laughter and playfulness of young voices enjoy the playground named after their only child.

“This has been a long, long road and words could never express what we’re all going through. I said it at Hayida’s funeral, anybody that is going through this, I’m sorry and it will remain that way. Our heart breaks every time I hear someone join this fraternity of ours,” she said.

“This park today, symbolizes that we’re one step closer to remembering the legacy of Hadiya. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re truly grateful. Next step—justice because we should have justice for her life being taken.”

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