On June 1st temperatures in Harlem soared well into the 90s. But this heat wave was no match for the wave of excitement at the legendary Apollo Theater. Nearly 3,000 New Yorkers attended the first Harlem Healthy Soul Festival sponsored by Coca-Cola.

The Apollo, well known as a community hub in Harlem, worked with long-time partner Coca-Cola to create a free outdoor event. The event welcomed Harlem residents to learn about community health resources available to help them live active and healthy lifestyles.

Families participated in an array of activities including health screenings, celebrity performances, exercise activities and nutrition-focused cooking demonstrations led by well-known actress Tamar a Tuni. In addition, more than 18 community and city-wide partners distributed health literature and information.

“We’re thrilled to see so many of our performers, audience members, students, and community members spending the day at the Apollo,” said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo. “The Apollo is deeply committed to serving and enhancing the life of the Harlem community, and to the well-being of our neighbors, so we are thankful for Coca-Cola’s support in presenting the Harlem Healthy Soul Festival.”

One local community member who did not have health insurance echoed what many others said that day – “the health screenings became a much-needed annual physical examination.”  Leading him from station to station to make sure he took advantage of every on-site offering, his wife commented on how helpful it was to have one place to go to learn about all of Harlem’s health resources.

To highlight the importance of physical activity, the day-long event also featured a children’s basketball clinic with the New York Knicks and New York Liberty.

“With alumni from both teams on hand to assist with shooting contests and mini-basketball clinics, and the Knicks City Dancers teaching revelers their signature moves, the message that exercise can be fun when you are doing something you enjoy resonated loud and clear,"  said Ron Skotarczak, Executive Vice President of Partnership Sales at the Madison Square Garden Company.

Adding a unique Apollo flare to the event, the Festival included performances by Apollo Amateur Night winners, the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Harlem Seeds. WBLS's Bob Lee hosted and emceed the live performances.

The Healthy Soul Festival marks an exciting new chapter in the 25-year relationship between Coca-Cola the Apollo. Though the Apollo has held health fairs in the past, Coca-Cola’s support enabled them to make this one the biggest to date.  

“Promoting a healthy lifestyle and creating opportunities for community involvement are top priorities for both the Apollo and Coca-Cola, and with those mutual goals in mind, we worked together to create an event that provided something for all community members—from children and their families to senior citizens,” said Mikki Shepard, Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater.

For a video recap of the Harlem Healthy Soul Festival presented by Coca-Cola, click here