By Dan Majka

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Taking place in University City for four Saturdays in the Summer, the 12th annual 40th Street Summer Series offers a variety of great, live music and outdoor family-friendly entertainment — and it doesn’t cost a thing.

“The 40th Street Summer Series is a free series of concerts and dance performances that happen in University City at 40th and Walnut (Streets),” says Chris Richman, with the University City District. “The University City District partners with the University of Pennsylvania and The Rotunda to bring free music in a family-friendly atmosphere to the community.”

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Richman says the events feature an opening act and then the main headliner. But before the music even gets started there are fun activities for the family in what can be described as a block party type atmosphere.

“Face-painting, juggling, balloon animals and there are free samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or goods from honeygrow,” he says. “This is a chance to really bring some life, bring some vitality to the community, and give something for neighbors to do that’s really fun.”

But Richman admits the Summer Series is also meant to help increase business at University City’s restaurants and retailers during the typically slow summer months.

“There are a lot of businesses around here that rely on Penn students and Penn faculty to sustain themselves, and we saw a need to bring more business in the summer,” he says. “So for four nights this year we will be doing these performances and we encourage people to eat at the restaurants, to visit local establishments, and we’re hoping to impact the local economy too with these events.”

Richman says the Summer Series brings people back year after year, thanks, in part, to its diverse mix of programming.

“We try to get acts of all different kinds. We try to present many different types of bands,” he says. “We’ve done indie rock bands in the past, we’ve done renowned musicians who are internationally famous, we do local groups that come right from our own community.”

Among this year’s concerts is a performance by Dendê & Band on July 23.

“He brings Afro-Brazilian rhythms and music,” Richman says. “So if you’re into dancing that’s a great one to come out to, so you can bring your dancing shoes.”

Then, on August 20, it’s a performance by the award-winning group The Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change.

“They are a really terrific African group of female singers,” Richman says, “who do traditional Liberian songs in their performance to bring to the forefront efforts to make the community safe and strong.”

The 40th Street Summer Series wraps up on September 17 with Rennie Harris RHAW.

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“Dr. Rennie Harris is a renowned choreographer and this group is a dance group for youths training for her main group,” Richman says. “They’ll be doing things like Campbell Locking, Popping and Boogaloo, B-boy/girl, House, and Hip hop social dance. So that’s going to be a great opportunity for the community come out and see some great dance and maybe dance themselves.”

So whether you know University City already or want to come explore it, Richman says this is the perfect opportunity to do it.

“It’s just a really wonderful, family-friendly activity where people can come, put down chairs, spread out blankets, throw a Frisbee,” he says, “and then listen to some great music or see great dance performances.”

For more information about the 40th Street Summer Series, visit the University City District website.

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