CHICAGO (CBS) -- Exactly a week after big crowds created chaos in downtown Chicago on the night of July 4th, a new initiative was under way Sunday to bring safe activity back to the Loop.
As CBS 2's Steven Graves reported, the rain on Sunday did not stop people from coming out for the first ever Sundays on State. The iconic Loop stretch of State Street was closed from Lake Street to Madison Street for the block party-like event.
Vendors and business set up on the street, and performers included street dancers.
The idea has been in the works since last fall. That was right after unrest and looting last year that affected shops already struggling because of low traffic during the the coronavirus pandemic.
Those participating said it is time to see the Loop in a different light.
"I want to see more positive things out there, and if people keep seeing more positivity, hopefully that will grow," said Leah Brown, owner of Leah Onomatopoeia Vintage.
"It's also a matter of getting more foot traffic on the street. That in and of itself is going to make everyone feel safer," said Jessica Cabe of the Chicago Loop Alliance. "The more eyes on the street, the more people out having a good time - doing what you're supposed to be doing - the better for everyone."
People who came to Sundays on State were pleased with the atmosphere.
"It made me come out, go into a store, look at different things – so it is definitely inviting, intriguing, interesting, and it brings back a sense of joy, happiness," said Stephanie Lee, who was visiting from Phoenix.
"We've obviously had a really tough year – so just to see the people coming back, the excitement, all the neighborhoods coming back together – it just couldn't be more perfect," said Loop resident Carin Stutz.
The Loop Alliance said it is working with the city constantly for security. Safety concerns are highlighted after scenes like that of July 4th - when there were no reports of major violence, but police arrested several people who had weapons and firecrackers.
Retail expert said such images create concern for visitors.
Sundays on State will give people something to do until 8 p.m. It's happening select Sundays until September, and it's free.
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