Courtney Callender Playground

The Daily Plant : Thursday, October 25, 2001


Photos by Spencer (Flasher) Tucker

The Central Park Pumpkin Sail on Sunday, October 21, was one in a list of exciting Halloween events happening this season in our parks. A parade led costumed children around the Harlem Meer for other park-goers to see and be spooked. When they returned, a luminous surprise awaited them. A train of pumpkins, carved by the kids, were lit and floated out onto the Meer. Some of the kids present took advantage of face painting, tattoo making, music, and bags of Halloween candy, compliments of the Central Park Conservancy. JP Morgan Chase, Metropolitan Life, and the Uris Brothers Foundation sponsored this event, in its eleventh year. Terry Carter, Coordinator for the Dana Discovery Center, organized the event, and Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern kicked it off with some brief remarks. Grand Marshal Frankenstein led the parade.

For more Halloween fun in Central Park, stop by the seventh annual Newmark Real Estate Halloween Party on the south forty acres of the park this Saturday, October 27 between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.


In every borough Parks aims to involve local communities in the physical health and cultural life of their neighborhood parks, to inspire in New Yorkers the feeling that parks are theirs to enjoy and theirs to protect. This year alone, volunteers have given 53,000 hours of service to parks. Many of those hours were given by Citizens for Courtney Callender Playground, Community Board 10, the Abyssinian Development Corporation, and others who focused their energy and their advocacy on Courtney Callender Playground. The result is a reconstruction officially finished on Wednesday, October 17.

Designer Claire Dudley overhauled this .7-acre playground. For the ribbon cutting ceremony, a neighborhood sports team was out on the new basketball court and the fans were in the bleachers. Kids were seen clambering up two new pieces of play equipment. New fences, lights, and gates will keep the playground safe at all hours, and the rare amur corktrees and huge trees of heaven, or ailanthus altissima, will shade visitors in summertime. $200,000 from Borough President C. Virginia (Sparrow) Fields and $789,000 from Council Member Bill (Rock Dove) Perkins funded this revision, which reaffirms Parks’ respect for Courtney Callender, the man for whom the playground is named.

Before becoming the Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, and the first African-American to hold that position, Callender was employed at Parks. In 1966 he established the department’s Office of Community Relations. It was the precursor to Partnerships for Parks, which recruits the interest and participation of local businesses, nonprofits and residents to help us ensure that neighborhood parks are healthy and unique. It is in the spirit of Callender’s actions that the playground was reconstructed. City and citizen worked together to accomplish their goal of an improved place for kids to play.

Speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony included Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Council Member Perkins; Karen Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation; Beverly Smith, Technical Advisor to the Citizens for Courtney Callender Playground; Pamela Craig, Principal of P.S. 133; Natasha McGregor, Assistant Principal of P.S. 133; and Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner.


(Thursday, October 27, 1988)



Inspired by the successful "Adopt-a-Monument" program, last spring the Natural Resources Group (NRG) launched the Adopt-a-Park Plant Parenthood Program, enabling students to "adopt" and care for a local park or playground. And yesterday, Chinese-American students from Manhattan’s Seward Park High School, one of 10 participating schools citywide, proudly showed the fruits of their labor at nearby Seward Park.

"Six months ago this area was nothing more than compacted sand," said Natural Resources Special Projects Coordinator Nancy Barthold, referring to a section of the park near East Broadway and Hefferson Street. "Compacted sand was pushed together so densely that it became hard like cement and nothing could grow," added Barthold, who coordinates the program.


"Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies.

And be it gash or gold it will not come

Again in this disguise."

Gwendolyn Brooks (b. 1917)

Directions to Courtney Callender Playground


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