BERLIN – We Heart Berlin is seeking volunteers to help with the painting that will transform the Henry Park basketball courts into a work of art.
The nonprofit We Heart Berlin, which got approval from town officials to essentially turn the basketball courts at Henry Park into a mural, is now signing up volunteers to help with the project. Painting is set to take place the week of Sept. 13.
“We’re really looking forward to this and we’re stoked all these things have come together,” said Tony Weeg, president of We Heart Berlin.
At the suggestion of We Heart Berlin’s Adrian Bowen, the nonprofit partnered with Shelton Hawkins, an Easton native known for using basketball courts as a canvas for public art. Bowen had seen what Hawkins did at other area courts and thought a bright new paint job, completed with the help of community residents, could bring new life to Henry Park.
The Berlin Town Council approved We Heart Berlin’s proposal in July, and thanks to funding support from the community and the Worcester County Arts Council, the nonprofit raised the more than $20,000 needed for the mural and new backboards. Hawkins is expected to spend the weekend drawing the lines on the courts for the mural, which was designed by Kelsey Hess, so that community members can help apply paint beginning Monday. Those interested in painting can sign up online at weheartberlin.org. Backboards will be installed later in the week.
Weeg says the mural and new hardware will be celebrated Sept. 26 at Love Day, an event that will include a ribbon cutting at the courts as well as some free throws by elected officials and tournament play. The festivities will begin at noon.
“We hope to make this a yearly event,” Weeg said.
Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols, who lives on Flower Street, said she was thrilled that Henry Park would be receiving some much-needed attention. She said the neighborhood has been overlooked for some time.
“It’s like someone has come by to a house that’s been left unattended, opened the shades, blown the dust off and realized just how beautiful it truly is,” Nichols said. “That’s what our neighborhood is.”
Once the Henry Park projects are done, Weeg said We Heart Berlin would be focusing on bringing ping pong tables to John Howard Burbage Park on William Street. The town has offered the nonprofit opportunities to fundraise during Oktoberfest and the New Year’s Eve ball drop. Volunteers interested in helping during the events can sign up online.