By Joel Hall
The City of Lovejoy of will celebrate the opening of Green Park, the city's newest basketball and playground facility, with a three-on-three basketball tournament this Saturday.
The Independence Day grand-opening event at the park will include free food, live music, and tournament supervision by former professional basketball players.
The new park, named after Lovejoy City Councilman Tommy Green, features two full-size basketball courts, a full playground, and a children's basketball court with a six-foot-high rim. Green said the park gives young people in Lovejoy a central place to play basketball that is safer than playing ball in the street.
"As our city has grown and there are more kids in our areas, there is a need to give them more places to go," Green said. "I'm really excited about the feedback we have gotten from the community. The children are out there utilizing this and we are finding that it is serving as a hub of activity for our city, and that is what we wanted."
To introduce the park, the city will host a three-on-three basketball tournament for men, women, and children ages 13 and up. Registration will take place Saturday between 8 and 8:30 a.m., at the park, located at 1999 Lovejoy Road, and games will take place from 9 a.m., to 1 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to the park's first organized event," said Lovejoy City Manager Sebastian Jackson. "Hopefully, if it's successful, other organizations will want to have organized events there as well."
Managing the tournament will be Revelle Williams, a former basketball coach and recruiter for Life University in Marietta. Joining him will be Mark Strickland, a former forward for the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat.
Williams said he is excited about organizing the tournament.
"My dad was head of Memphis (Tenn.) City Parks and Recreation, so I always grew up around that," he said. "I knew how important that was for the Memphis, Tenn., area so when I got a phone call about the opening of a new park, I wanted to be a part of that. It's a great opportunity, always, to be a part of something that is brand new to better the community."
Prizes will be given to the winning teams in the three-on-three tournament, Williams said.
The park, which has been in operation since June, is the city's first full-scale basketball facility, according to Jackson, the Lovejoy city manager. He said the park has already made a difference in the city.
"In the summertime, minds are idle," he said. "This is giving kids and families something to do that's free. Lovejoy is divided by [U.S. Highway] 19/41. We have a whole bunch of facilities and activities on one side of 19/41 and we don't have a lot on the other side. This is an opportunity for more activities on this [the east] side."
For more information, visit www.cityoflovejoy.com or call (770) 471-2304.