02 Jul Sixers Youth Foundation Helps Cut Ribbon at Revitalized Hartranft Court
It wasn’t a restoration, rehabilitation, or recreation.Thursday’s uplifting, spirited event on the previously unfurnished playground adjacent to John F. Hartranft School in North Philadelphia was – in the truest sense – a revival.
After experiencing its fair share of ups and downs, frustrations, and pain in recent years, the proud, resilient Hartranft community got to celebrate the anticipated ribbon-cutting of a fresh, new basketball court, located between 7th and 9th Streets, on Cumberland Street.
The completion of the project was long in the making, and involved numerous local organizations, artists, government officials, and community members working together with collaborative determination.
It also represented the first official outdoor court revitalization initiative spearheaded by the Sixers Youth Foundation, the non-profit charitable arm of the 76ers.
The fittingly warm, sunny afternoon began with a series of speeches inside an old row home tucked behind the original Breyer’s Ice Cream Co. headquarters, just a block away from the revitalized court. The building was converted into an art exhibit commissioned by local non-profit organization Village Arts, and showcased the historical importance of the Hartranft court and neighborhood.
Among the court renovation project’s key contributors who spoke Thursday were Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke; 76ers President Chris Heck; 76ers Executive Director of Community Engagement Amy Hever; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Deputy Commissioner Orlando Rendon; Hartranft community leader Reggie Johnson; Philadelphia-based teaching artist and actor Anthony Martinez-Briggs, who performed a powerful spoken-word poem; and Executive Director of the Village of Arts & Humanities Aviva Kapust.
LISC Philadelphia’s Andy Frishkoff and Melissa Kim, and Hartranft’s Diane Bridges were intricate point people on the revitalization project, too.
Also on hand Thursday were Delaware Blue Coats General Manager Elton Brand; Hamilton Lane executive Erik Hirsch; 76ers Chief Operating Officer Lara Price; and CBS 3 news anchor Ukee Washington, all of whom serve on the Sixers Youth Foundation board, which also includes Allison Blitzer, Marjorie Harris, Sherryl Kuhlman, Scott O’Neil, Brad Shron, and Andy Speiser.
Once Thursday’s speakers were finished with their remarks, the group made the short walk over to the Hartranft court for the ribbon cutting itself.
Afterwards, Brand, a former no. 1 draft pick, Rookie of the Year, and two-time All-Star, addressed attendees gathered around the playground.
“I never had a court this nice,” said the former Sixer, who had two stints with the team during his playing days, “but I know what a nice court means.”
The rest of Thursday was spent appropriately, with the long-awaited Hartranft court being put to good use. Franklin and the Sixers Dunk Squad got the crowd going, and later on, kids took part in an on-court scrimmage.
For a community that continues to make a committed push towards a promising evolution, Thursday’s festivities represented a well-earned feel-good moment.
Photographs taken by Lee Cary.