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Music returns to Marvin Gaye Park this weekend as a second year of Soular Sunday gets underway.

The bi-weekly gathering, started by a coalition of neighbors working to dispel negative perceptions attached to the park, attracts mostly Ward 7 residents by word of mouth and a Facebook page, according to neighborhood resident and organizer Christine Rhone. The event draws “everybody. Old, young, all races, creeds… you name it,” Rhone says via email.

The success of Soular Sunday depends in part on a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere, one that competes with the troubled history of the park. Part of that comes from the musical offerings, led by Jahsonic, a resident DJ at Marvin and the “musical captain of our ship,” Rhone says. He’ll be joined this year by DJ Underdog and DJ Native SUN, who will help kick off the season this Sunday.

“We are planning on introducing some live local bands this year,” Rhone says, “but we’re keeping the lineup on the hush right now.”

Another change comes from the festival cuisine. Rather than bringing in chefs to provide food for festival-goers, outdoor grills will be available so people can bring their own ingredients to cook. “We want the feeling of an ole school cook-out with banging music and beautiful people spreading love,” Rhone wrote.

Every aspect of the festival is designed to promote both community solidarity, as well as the usefulness of D.C.’s parks. When asked about how last summer’s Soular Sunday informed organizers for this year, Rhone’s response was simple: “We learned that if you build it with love, they will come.”

The first Soular Sunday event takes place Sunday, July 5 from noon to 6 p.m. at Marvin Gaye Park.

Photo courtesy Christine Rhone