There were more than a hundred people gathered in Brown Park on Saturday for a double dutch competition. While kids swarmed the park’s brand-new play equipment, their parents gathered around swishing jump ropes. More than the official ribbon-cutting two weeks ago, this event marked the rebirth of a park that had become synonymous with so many of Atlantic City’s problems.
After a $1.5 million renovation, the park reopened last month and it is now being used by families. Many of the parents in the park on Saturday never played there themselves – Brown Park had that kind of a reputation for over three decades.
“We’re 35 years old – no one ever played in Brown’s Park, because of the infestation of drugs and alcohol and violence,” said Indra Owens, co-founder of a girls’ mentoring group called Princess Inc. When Owens and her Princess Inc co-founder Automne Bennett learned the park was being renovated, they got together with managers of the nearby housing developments. “We wanted to make something happen in the park for kids and families.” And so ‘Let’s Jump’ was born.
“We are very, very excited!” said Bennett, speaking on the sidelines of the event.
Less than a year ago, the park was one of the city’s most notorious drug markets, and parents from the neighboring developments wouldn’t let their kids play there. Melquan Abdullah said he used to call the area ‘concrete park’. Abdullah was stunned by its transformation. “To see what it is now?… It’s emotional,” he said. “This never happens.”
Everyone was optimistic that now families are using the park, it will not return to how it used to be.
“Hopefully there’s going to be many more events like this,” said Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz. The Atlantic City Library and the Police Athletic League are among other groups already planning events in the park, Shabazz said.
We collaborated with SNJ Today to film the event – check out that piece below and here on SNJ Today’s website.