PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The West Fest Block Party, meant to reunite the Cobbs Creek community after the pandemic, is now canceled due to the surge of violence in Philadelphia.
"It really is a disappointment. Understandable, but still a disappointment," said Tonya Green, block captain for the 5800 block of Spruce Street. "Should it be canceled? Not necessarily because life still has to go on."
In the cancellation letter issued by the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, President Jabari Jones said within the span of a few days there was a shooting at the Syre Recreation Center, where the event was to be held; a stabbing a few doors down from the recreation center; and a shooting at a funeral procession on 63rd and Spruce streets.
"We don't want to have a mass event that we can't guarantee safety," said Jones. "The last thing for me in a leadership role that I have would be seeing somebody leave our event and get shot. Or somebody's kid gets hit."
But neighbors said they are disappointed. They say the block party, which was scheduled for July 16, would have served as an outlet for neighborhood kids.
"When you cancel stuff like that, positive stuff, you're letting them win," said Darrin McNair of Cobbs Creek. "You're letting the idiots shooting these guns, you're letting them win. This is how you stop them. You show kids there's another way. Give them a couple hot dogs, a little party and they'll see, 'Oh there are some good things going on in life. I don't have to use a gun.'"
And others say the event offers invaluable opportunities for families.
"A lot of times when these block parties are happening, resources are also there to help the parents," said Green. "A lot of times they get school supplies. They might get information on health care, food, lots of different resources that other people might not necessarily reach out to go get."
Jones said two other block parties are scheduled in August and September. Those events are on hold until security and safety can be figured out.