Block party will 'Make Americká Great Again'

After a two-year gap, a big daylong festival is coming to Americká Street

Americká Street in Prague's Vinohrady district will be having a block party Sept. 16 as part of the Zažít město jinak (Experience the City Differently) festival. Some 90 locations across the Czech Republic will be participating, but the Americká Street party will be one of the bigger events.

Somewhat controversially, the organizers have chosen the motto “Make Americká Great Again,” but they insist the event is not political.

The block party will see the street closed to traffic and cleared of cars so people can walk from one end at náměstí Míru to the other at Koperníkova Street.

“We integrate different businesses and shops that are located directly in the street or in the neighborhood. We are bigger so we also have sellers and restaurants coming from all over,” co-organizer Omri Goz said.

The street is broken up into zones. La Calle Mexicana, or Mexican Street, is the part furthest from náměstí Míru. One of the businesses in that section is Las Adelitas restaurant. Other businesses from the Latin American community also join in. “Basically every Latin American restaurant in Prague comes and presents their food. There is also a music stage. This year by chance it falls on Mexican Independence Day so it will be an even bigger celebration. We will have the Mexican ambassador and a ceremony,” Goz said. Bands will play a variety of Latin music including mariachi.

Contrary to popular belief, Sept. 16 is celebrated in Mexico as the start of the Mexican War of Independence. Cinco de Mayo (May 5) actually is not a very important holiday in Mexico, but has become a tool for international marketing as it helps to kick off the summer early.

The next block is dedicated to children's activities and NGOs, with workshops and interactive events. There is a bikeshop and a bar called Pink Floyd, which will have a beer garden.

“Then we come to the square in Americká. We will have DJ s from Radio One, which is actually based on the border with Vinohrady and Prague 10. You could almost say it is local,” Goz said.

There are a lot of wine shops in that area. “We are cooperating with the French community so there will be a lot of French stalls, mostly wine but also some delicacies,” he said.

The next block will also bring another international flavor as the main businesses are the Croatian restaurant Olive Point and the American eatery Bad Jeff's Barbeque. Much of the Balkan community comes to this section, and other Balkan restaurants will also be present. A music stage will have Balkan music as well as rock 'n' roll.

The section closest to náměstí Míru is dedicated more to design and fashions. “We have local designers and small boutiques that sell their clothes and jewelry,” he said. The area also has the Prague Beer Museum and a flower shop.

“It is great that we really manage to work with different communities as well with the neighborhood. People come from all around Prague,” Goz said.

“Basically we try to integrate everyone on the street. Then we give a theme to each area, and we attract participants not just from the area itself,” he said.

Another participant in the party is the theater D21, which is nearby on Záhřebská Street. They will have an open day also be providing stilt walkers and other entertainment to the party.

The first year for the block party on Americká Street was 2010, and it occurred four years in a row. Then due to road work in the nearby area the traffic department wouldn't give permission because too many streets were already closed. “They didn't give us permission, although we had the support of the mayor of Prague 2,” he said. One year they skipped having a party, and the next it was moved to Lucemburská Street in Prague 3, and just focused on the Latin theme.

“We prefer to do it in Americká because there is much more interaction with the local people and businesses,” he said.

The return to Americká after two years is the reason for the slogan “Make Americká Great Again.” They organizers have made red hats that look a bit like the 2016 campaign hats for Donald Trump, except Americká has an extra letter and an accent mark. There is also the Zažít město jinak logo.

“We are not supporters of Trump. Czechs don't know the story behind the slogan and the hat, and if they know they find it funny. I have been wearing it now for two weeks, and I have gotten just positive responses. On Facebook we did get some people that even though they know it is for the event they don't see the humor,” organizer Omri Goz said.

“We are selling those hats in businesses on the street that are participating,” he said, adding that the money raised will go toward improving the block party.

An irony is that a large part of the block party is supported by the Mexican community, which US President Donald Trump has been very critical of. “It was mentioned that we could build a wall before the Mexican part, but we don't want to take it too far. We take it in a humorous kind of way and we don't want to offend anyone. We are apolitical. It is not a political statement,” he said.

“There were ideas to have a Trump piñata and stuff like this, but we are not going in this direction. We want to keep it happy. It is for families and really not political. We want to keep it as a fun day. We have thousands of people coming, which is great,” he said. If the hat creates some discussion of the party then it is good, he added.

Americká Street belongs to a group of streets named after the countries and capitals that participated in World War I, centered around náměstí Míru, which is Peace Square. This explains why the nearby streets are named for France, England, Russia, Romania, Italy and Yugoslavia and their capitals. The exception is the street named for Paris, which is near Old Town Square as it is meant to cash in on the idea of Paris as a fashion capital.

Before 1926, Americká Street was called Krameriova, after Czech revivalist writer Václav Matěj Kramerius.

For more about the event, visit www.facebook.com/events

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