Growing up, some of my fondest memories were made at ‘the alley,’ the park across the street from my grandmother’s house. It was more than just a park—it was our own little village, where friends and family would gather to play, laugh, and create memories that would last a lifetime. It was a vibrant village filled with beautiful people who cared for one another like family. Over the years, friendships were forged, and occasionally, rivalries emerged, but through it all, there was a sense of unity and camaraderie that bound us together. Both of my parents attended school in South River, and many of their friends lived and raised their families right here in ‘the alley’. For us, ‘the alley’ wasn’t just a place to play—it was our community, a tight-knit gathering of black families who supported and uplifted one another. The memories made here are ones that I will always hold dear, filled with love, laughter, and the warmth of genuine friendship.

‘The alley’ had everything a kid could dream of—two full basketball courts, monkey bars, swings, and even a few other things to ride on. But what made it truly special was the sense of community that surrounded it. Every day, you could find people of all ages coming together to shoot hoops, play games, and enjoy each other’s company.

One of my favorite things to do was watch the elders go up and down the court for hours on end. They would argue over every little call, knock each other around like it was nothing, and just have a blast. It was like they were kids again, lost in the joy of the game.

The OG’s

But as I grew older and came back to visit ‘the alley’ as an adult, I noticed that things had changed. The park was no longer bustling with activity like it used to be. Kids were no longer outside playing; instead, they were glued to their video games and cell phones. It saddened me to see such a vibrant community space sitting empty and neglected.

That’s when I knew I had to do something about it. After speaking with some parents and friends in South River, I decided to take action. I organized a series of events at ‘the alley’ aimed at encouraging kids to come out and play. For four Sundays in the month of August, my team and I would set up tents, bring out basketballs and other equipment, and host basketball games, soccer clinics, and fun activities for the community to enjoy.

With the support of some amazing people, including DJ MistarIsh who provided the music, we were able to breathe new life into ‘the alley.’ What started as a simple idea quickly grew into a beloved tradition that lasted for six summers. It was incredible to see old childhood friends, kids of all ages coming together, making new friends, and rediscovering the joy of playing outside.

Looking back on those summers at ‘the alley,’ I feel grateful for the memories we created and the sense of community we were able to foster. It’s a reminder that sometimes, all it takes is a little initiative and a lot of heart to make a difference in the world around us. And for me, that’s what ‘the alley’ will always represent—a place where memories were made, friendships were forged, and the spirit of community thrived.

Location: JFK Park ‘The Alley’, South River NJ