“We’ve been doing this for 50 years now,” Rodney Hubbard Sr. said Sunday, September 6 on the front steps of the Carr Square Community Center across from Loretta Hall Park. “I was 16 years old when they started, and I haven’t missed one yet.”
At least 1,000 people gathered to partake in free food, face painting, pony rides, a live concert and other festivities at no charge to those who filled the park named after one of the neighborhood’s iconic residents.
“First, I want to pay homage to Loretta Hall, who was my mentor,” Hubbard said. “Her and her dream inspired me as a young person.”
Several generations – from toddlers to senior citizens – braved the Labor Day weekend heat as the neighborhood gathered for the landmark year of coming together to celebrate their community’s roots.
Some still live in the neighborhood, but many who migrated to other parts of the region clearly still hold Carr Square dear. They proudly walked around in T-shirts that paid homage to the near North Side neighborhood. “Straight Outta Carr Square” T-shirts reflected the younger generation, while the older folks wore shirts that said “Carr Square For Life.”
They ate, played and fellowshipped in a way that gave the vibe of a family affair along the entire stretch of 15th and Carr streets.
As the masses partied, members of the Hubbard family, staples of the Carr Square neighborhood and North St. Louis politics, conducted a formal program. Many parties involved with helping them improve the neighborhood were recognized.
“I want to thank all of you for coming out and being a part of this program,” said state Representative Penny Hubbard. “Because if you didn’t, it wouldn’t be what it is today.”
As they paid homage to 50 years of coming together, they also celebrated the completion of the Loretta Hall Townhomes.
“There are a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into making those units a reality,” said 5th Ward Alderwoman Tamika Hubbard. “It took a long time to get them built, and we are just so grateful.”
Politicians, community development professionals and other dignitaries sat up front as special guests for the formal program.
St. Louis License Collector Mavis Thompson sat among them. As she was introduced, she made it known that she was straight out of Carr Square.
“1821 Lovejoy Lane,” Thompson shouted from her seat as she waved to the crowd.
“You know, that’s for the old-school people, because there is no more Lovejoy Lane,” Tamika Hubbard said as the crowd laughed.
Others guests included Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr., St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones and NAACP St. Louis City Chapter President Adolphus Pruitt.
The most touching moment of the program occurred when Rick Riley was surprised with a special award for volunteering his time and his skills as a grill master to cater the event for the past 10 years.
Riley feeds people like they are members of his own family. He was moved to tears by the honor. He could barely collect himself to offer thanks.
“As you can see,” Rodney Hubbard Sr. said, “this is all about the community.”