LEGO Opens Harlem Playground for 90th Anniversary

NEW YORK — The LEGO brand celebrated its 90th anniversary with the unveiling of an all-new playground in Harlem on Wednesday. Children of Sister Sol Brotherhood joined the party for the inauguration of LEGO world game day.

“A lot of the work we do with young people is about finding their voice, and one of the main ways to find the voice is through play, exploration,” BroSis co-founder Khary Lazarre-White said.

LEGO enlisted the eye of Hebrew artist Brantley to bring a vision of adventure to life.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of shining examples or many outlets for creativity,” Brantley said, “so if I can lend my talents, lend my voice to something, I’m always up for it.”

The BroSis organization once used the Hamilton Place strip outside its university center to feed families during the pandemic. Now, the interactive playground design above a colorful floor mural invites families to take a break from the day to stop and play.

“The ability to kind of blend my visual style and my sensibilities into something very iconic appealed to me as an artist,” Brantley said of his LEGO-themed creation.

Brantley got help coming up with ideas from the BroSis kids, who are already benefiting from a new five-story community center that opened earlier this year. 8-year-old Amaia wanted snakes on her playground, so Brantley installed large wiggly poles that spin.

“Snakes are scary unless you’re lucky enough to see snakes aren’t scary,” Amaia said. “They are friendly.”

“Children have endless imaginations and it’s just about making them dream, but not stopping there, asking them to take those dreams and turn them into something,” explained Alero Akuya, vice- Chairman of the LEGO Group Global Brand.

A BroSis graduate fulfilled his dreams to make the project possible. Kofi Sam now works for LEGO and nominated his former community center for a grant.

“He wanted to be someone who worked in the corporate world,” Lazarre-White said. “We supported him that way and now he finds himself in an international business. He’s able to bring resources back to Harlem, really down the street where he grew up.”

Families can find the facility on Hamilton Place between 143rd and 144th streets until Nov. 5. The mural will be on display until July 2023.

LEGO will mark World Play Day every August 10, as part of the brand’s legacy.

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Harold B. McConnell