DES MOINES, Iowa – Summer City Hoops tips off its season this summer with the addition of permanent lights to its basketball courts.
The program brings youths and adults together in the community in a positive way.
City of Des Moines Police Officer Stephanie Swartz said the community wasn’t too excited when they first heard of the program last year.
“Anytime you have a change I think the neighborhood was a little concerned we would have people in the park later and that might present issues. To my knowledge, we haven’t had any issues. People have been very respectful of when the lights go off it is time to go home,” Swartz said.
The program is offered at both Martin Luther King Jr. and Evelyn K. Davis Park.
Each Thursday night people can watch teams of four play basketball, enjoy food, and get to know their neighbors.
Urban Dreams Executive Director Izaah Knox said, “We want this to be a real lively, positive park in the community where people can come out and enjoy themselves until 11 o’clock at night at least.”
There are more than 200 people who come out to the Summer City Hoops program each week.
Swartz said having the program allows law enforcement to get to know the community as well.
“Since last summer multiple times I have been on other trips or at other events or at other school visits and I’ve had kids flag me down and say ‘hey I remember you from that basketball thing at the park.' Or, ‘weren’t you down at the park with us?’ It gives them an opportunity to feel like there is some ownership with us. They know us and they have that relationship and connection,” Swartz said.
Teams can sign up beginning at 6:00 p.m. There will be a ceremony for the new permanent lights at 7:00 p.m. Games can last until 10:00 p.m.
In 10 weeks there will be a championship game. The program asks teams who are interested in playing in the championships to come the last two weeks with the same team members to qualify.
Project partners include Invest Health Des Moines, AMOS, Urban Dreams, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, and Wells Fargo.