BERLIN – The community will celebrate the renaissance of Henry Park with Love Day on Sunday.
Area residents are invited to Henry Park on Sunday, Oct. 17, as the nonprofit We Heart Berlin celebrates the renovation of the basketball courts. The courts now feature a colorful mural and new backboards.
“People will have an opportunity to see old faces, meet new faces and celebrate with the people of Berlin,” said Adrian Bowen, a member of the nonprofit’s board. “Come and see the kids have fun.”
Love Day marks the culmination of a months-long effort to turn the Henry Park basketball courts into a mural and to upgrade the park’s basketball equipment. In July, town officials approved We Heart Berlin’s proposal to have artist Shelton Hawkins—with the help of local volunteers—paint a brightly colored mural on the basketball courts. In the wake of that approval, We Heart Berlin expanded its efforts and began raising funds to cover the cost of paint as well as new backboards for the courts.
“Overall it was an amazing success,” said Tony Weeg, president of We Heart Berlin.
While a shipping mishap destroyed some paint and slowed the painting process, the mural was completed in 14 days.
“It took 225 gallons of paint,” Weeg said. “It took a total of 25 volunteers who went into the evening at times.”
He said it was encouraging to see the array of volunteers that came out to give their time to the project. Local children watched avidly throughout the process.
“There’s one kid I can’t wait to give a basketball to,” Weeg said. “He came out and watched every day.”
On Sunday, Oct. 17, We Heart Berlin welcomes the community to Henry Park to check out the refurbished courts.
“On this day we will celebrate many things, specifically, we will celebrate diversity through the appreciation of art, as well as sport with the unveiling of a new three-basketball-court-wide mural, six new acrylic backboards and breakaway rims, as well as new pole pads—all from industry leader True Bounce,” a Love Day press release reads. “The amount raised through public and private contributions was just short of $33,000.”
The festivities, which start at noon, include a ribbon cutting by elected officials, live reggae music, a DJ and various basketball competitions. Local churches have also partnered to donate food and drinks.
Weeg is excited to see some of Stephen Decatur High School’s former basketball stars face off on the court. There are also plans for a three-point competition and free throws.
“Come out and meet somebody new,” Weeg said.
With the Memorial Day Parade canceled the last two years because of COVID-19, Bowen believes the community will be thrilled to be able to come out and enjoy an afternoon together at the park.
“I’m thinking this event is something people needed,” he said.
Bowen, who first brought up the idea of having Hawkins transform the courts into a piece of artwork, hopes the renovation of the courts will bring new life to Henry Park. Bowen grew up in the area and recalls seeing families in the past gathering at the park every weekend.
“That park’s a staple in the community,” he said. “I’m hoping by brightening it up and bringing something new it will bring people back out to enjoy the park.”