DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Superstar acts donated their time and money to make the Gem City Shine event possible, with Dave Chappelle donating the stage and production elements.
It took a lot of planning to pull everything together in less than two weeks, but Dayton city officials said they were ready to deliver.
Chappelle told the crowd, “We hold our heads high because we know where we’re from,” adding “you’re the best neighbors I could ask for.”
For many of the 20,000 in the audience, including the mayor, it was a chance to finally celebrate.
Carri Paschal attended the show. She said, “Just a chance for us to show we’re resilient, that we can come together.”
Another concert-goer, Jillynne Fields said, “There’s an incredible amount of community spirit just in the Oregon District.”
“It’s a very safe space and a very safe place, one of the most unique places in the entire region,” said Mayor Nan Whaley.
For hours they came Sunday, thousands and thousands of people streaming through the gates into the Gem City Shine. Roughly 10 days of planning coming to fruition.
Whaley said, “You can’t say enough about the team at the City of Dayton. Particularly the first responders. I think they’re the best in the country.”
Oregon District businesses were flooded with people laughing and eating and spending a little money. It’s a good problem to have.
Carolyn DesJardin of the Oregon District Business Association said she was, “emotionally exhausted, physically exhausted from all the support. But they understand everything is with the best intentions and we’re going to come out of this stronger.”
Mayor Nan Whaley has been on a whirlwind the past three weeks leading the city in the aftermath of the shooting. She says she’s learned what leadership is required in the wake of the tragedy.
“To be with your city as much as possible, and to be, quite frankly, as public as possible,” Whaley said. “Because your community is scared and nervous and grieving and they need to see their leaders out there and out front.”
Neighborhood leaders say the response is palpable and appreciated. DesJardin said, “Since I’ve been out here all I’ve seen is love. Everyone is calm, everyone is excited, everyone is embracing each other and that’s what we want to see in the district.”