The stars and community leaders of Park Hill will be out and about Saturday, Aug. 28, for the fun-filled, history-packed Park Hill Day of Legends event at Skyland Park.
The event, hosted by the Park Hill Pirates Youth Sports Organization, will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the park located at 35th Avenue between Holly and Ivy Streets.
The Pirates organization was started in 1968 by the late and former Denver City Council member William Roberts.
“The organization was built during the Civil Rights Movement,” said Park Hill Pirates board chair Herman White. “Roberts was trying to funnel all that negative energy during the social unrest and he pushed that toward something positive and that was football.”
White said many prominent Black leaders in Denver have come through the Pirates program, including Mayor Michael Hancock, state senator James Coleman, NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups and Calais Campbell, 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner and defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Legends event has been ongoing for about 16 years and was previously named Houston-Mack Day, after Freddie Houston and Namon Mack, who were instrumental in the Pirates’ success both on and off the field.
The event centers around celebrating the football and cheerleading teams, signifying the end of preseason with a prep rally-style start for the regular season. Usually two awards are handed out, but this year there will be six, including a “Good Neighbor” award named after Davarie Armstrong, a 17-year-old Denver South football player and Pirate who was fatally shot at a house party in Montbello on July 11, 2020.
White said this year, Legends Day will also be more community-focused. He said a cloud of contention is hovering over Park Hill, which has been a historically Black neighborhood, due to gentrification, displacement and the ongoing Park Hill Golf Course battle.
“The community is somewhat divided,” White said. “There’s a lot of gentrification and displacement of Black and Brown people. It’s a place I grew up in… but many people cannot afford to live here any more. There’s been a huge divestment in the community. So, we want to utilize our influence in the community and make this more of a community event to foster better relationships and connections.”
The day will feature football scrimmages and cheerleader performances.
Kids will have bounce houses, face painting and an arts and craft table to stay entertained and adults can enjoy a day party with drinks, a DJ and a musical performance by Grammy-nominated songwriter and Denverite Trev Rich.
Food trucks will be on site and 51 community partners who will set up booths throughout the park offering goods and services.
“I hope that people understand that this event is more about celebrating the heritage of Park Hill,” White said. “It’s about taking pride in living, supporting and serving the neighborhood. And bridging relationships around commonality versus differences.”
Here’s a list of the awards and acknowledgements:
- Freddie Houston Leadership & Legacy Award – Recipient: Collinus Newesome (Colorado Health Foundation)
- Namon Mack Leadership & Legacy Award – Recipient: Ms. Wilson (The Holly)
- Tony Wells Leadership & Legacy Award – Recipient: Caryl Smith-Gilbert (Head Track Coach – Georgia)
- Glenda “Rose” Stephens Leadership & Legacy Award – Recipient: Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali & Dr. Carroll-Sadikia Watkins Ali – The Northeast Denver Islamic Center & The Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance
- The Living Legend Award – Herman White Sr. (Phenom Phactory)
- Davarie Armstrong “Good Neighbor” Award – Gerie Grimes (Hope Center)
- Pirates Hall of Honor 2021 Awardees (Alumni)(5) – Corey Ross, Allen Webb, Quincey Wallum, Clay Hysaw, Dwight Swift
Others to be recognized:
- Jurrell & Ryan Casey (The Casey Fund) – For paying league fees for ALL student-athletes for the year
- LaDawn Sullivan (The BRIC Fund) – For contributing significantly to our new uniforms