Charlotte Unity 5K + Block Party = Epic
The Queen City ups the ante for the Unity 5K with a block party celebration.
The Third Annual Unity 5K in Charlotte promises to be the biggest Together We Stand (TWS) event to date. In fact, it’s a veritable party, with four partnering breweries, four food trucks, one of the Queen City’s top DJs, a special demo, and more.
NoDa Brewing Company is hosting the Unity 5K and Block Party at its North End location on Sunday, October 8, with the run kicking off at noon and the party going until 5 p.m. Divine Barrel Brewing, Pilot Brewing, and Resident Culture Brewing will also be joining the festivities with their own beers available for purchase. In addition to the breweries, four food trucks will be on-site: Pizzeria Di Cicco, Banh Mi Brothers, Ve-Go (specializing in vegan fare), and Fat Burritos.
“I'm just excited about the grand scope of it all,” says James Amato, Marketing Manager for Divine Barrel, which hosted the first Unity 5K in 2021, as well as two Maud 2.25 runs. “It seems like [attendance] doubled last year—maybe even more than doubled—so it would be awesome to see it double again.”
And NoDa has the space to handle such a crowd. Its North End location is home to the brewery’s main production facility, taproom, and an expansive beer garden. It’s a family- and pet-friendly space ideal for a gathering of familiar and new faces. Plus, as Amato points out, NoDa boasts a massive, well-established run club.
Bring NoDa runners together with TWS partners Fleet Feet Charlotte and RunCLTRun and then add in brewery and food truck fans, and the event starts to feel like the classic neighborhood block party—which is exactly what Together We Stand founder Tyrone Irby envisioned when the idea for this event first emerged.
“When you think about the concept of a block party, you’re immediately taken to a city street filled with neighbors and friends—no one is a stranger—and there’s something so incredibly special about that,” says Razia Gonzalez, Marketing Strategist for Resident Culture Brewing. “When you chat with [Tyrone], he lights up talking about events like the Block Party. He reminisces on neighborhood block parties, and you can truly feel the excitement and it's contagious.”
DJ A-Minor, a member of Radical Grove Collective and the official DJ of the Charlotte Hornets, will keep the excitement going strong, while longtime TWS partner HOKA will offer a shoe demo during the 5K.
But while the dual event is a fun gathering, it also carries an urgent purpose: to foster conversations and relationships among people of all races, backgrounds, abilities, sexual identities, and more. These values are at the core of Together We Stand, and its multiple Charlotte partners are championing the cause by providing the space, bringing in people, and building community connections.
“They really couldn't have picked a better group of breweries,” says Rachael Hudson, Co-Owner and Head Brewer of Pilot Brewing. “I think there is a real comfort with breweries. Typically it's a place where you can bring your kids or the older people in your life. It can be a family affair or you can go by yourself. So it’s easier to get people to come out.”
Hudson adds that even if patrons don’t actively join the conversation they will be exposed to a more diverse group of people, organizations, and ideas. In fact, beer halls and taverns have a long history as informal meeting places.
“Beer gardens were where you went to socialize. These were the places where you had community and where you learned about new ideas,” Hudson says. “People connect in such different ways that it's wild to me. … It's just like this big circle that is very organic and never stops.”
A portion of proceeds from the Unity 5k/Block Party, including all beer sales, will be donated to North Carolina for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a Greensboro-Charlotte based nonprofit building inclusive communities through youth programs, social justice education, and more. Runners, walkers, and block party-goers can continue the discussion online through the Virtual Courageous Conversation series.
Although social media can be a toxic environment, it can also serve as a community forum. In its Courageous Conversation starters, TWS asks participants to share recommendations for businesses, books, resources, and programs that advance DEI values and connect diverse groups.
Divine Barrel’s Amato credits Irby and Together We Stand for building a platform where people can engage in tough conversations—and for making those tough conversations a bit less intimidating. The hope is more people will come together and just start talking.
“To see the turnout at TWS events and to just overhear some of the discussions people are having and to watch different groups of people interacting with people they may not otherwise interact with is a really cool thing to experience,” Amato says. “It just makes you feel good—like there's actually hope out there.”
Third Annual Unity 5k Charlotte/Block Party
Date: Sunday, October 8
Time: Noon to 5 p.m.
Where: NoDa Brewing - North End (2229 N. Davidson St.)
Block Party: Free
Next up in the 2023 Unity 5K series: Greensboro (Oct. 15) and Fayetteville (Oct