Levings Showcase gears up for finale with July 29 event

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118539004617361.jpg’, ‘Photo by Lisa Palmeno’, ‘Ron Hawthorne, “The Magical Entertainer,” excited the kids with scarves and his pet and co-star “Illusion,” a bald python, July 15.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118539009820117.jpg’, ‘Photo by Lisa Palmeno’, ‘Dancing cheerleader-style to a medley of popular tunes July 15, Burn Squad showed stage presence, skill as choreographers and group style on their way to a first-place finish.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118539002129346.jpg’, ‘Photo by Lisa Palmeno’, ‘A child enjoys the sights and sounds at the Levings Showcase July 15.‘);

Participants dance, rap, sing and show various forms of talent in hopes of winning cash prizes

July 15 marked the turning point for Levings Showcase 2007, a six-event series put on by Rockford Park District. The finale will be Sunday, Aug. 19. That’s when all first- and second-place winners from each event dance, rap, sing and show various forms of talent in hopes of winning cash prizes.

The Rockford Park District series has been a mainstay of entertainment in south Rockford for many years. Each year, the series begins in early June at Levings Lake Park, a spot that, in the 1960s and 1970s, was a popular place for picnics, fishing and swimming in the heart of what has always been the city’s most ethnically-diverse quadrant.

July 15, many family picnickers and fishermen were drawn from their cozy spots along the lake to enjoy a four-hour program filled with professional entertainment, talent contests and prizes. The Smokehouse Authentic Barbecue wagon pulled up just as Brother K Band took the stage to kick off the day with some old-school blues. Smoke wafted in the air as the park filled with the aroma of ribs and hot dogs. Ron Hawthorne, “The Magical Entertainer,” excited the kids with scarves, Chinese Linking Rings, and his pet and co-star “Illusion,” a bald python.

As the grown folks finished up and the talent contest portion of the show neared, the stands began to fill, and kids of all ages filed in with their parents. Some were there for the entertainment, some to perform, and many just to support. The contest winners are decided by audience participation and applause, and kids make sure their favorites win. Having a lot of fans and family present means a better chance to win, and Burn Squad, the day’s first-placers, had lots of backing.

The team of several girls met up in the park in their black shorts and little red shirts that said “Burn Squad” on them. They looked confident as they headed off to practice their routine for the contest. Dancing cheerleader-style to a medley of popular tunes, they showed stage presence, skill as choreographers, and group style.

Second-place winners were Stunnaz & Dime Pieces’s, Finnal Decision, and Dons & Divas Ent. performing as one group. Third-place winner and youngest placer was “Zay,” who danced solo for the audience that crowded around the blacktop in front of the stage.

Other kid performers that day were: Tree Branch, a recording artist who donated and autographed CDs and posters for the kids; rappers G N’G; The Krump Girls, who danced; Brandy Hanes on harmonica; and Heather Hanes, an urban performance poet.

The next event will be at Levings July 29 when neo-soul artist Marlon will start the festivities, and the last round of winners will be chosen to go on to the finals. Free and open to the public, the event runs 3-7 p.m.

from the July 25-31, 2007, issue

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