Late Summer Scene: Little Flower Playground

Kids play in Little Flower Playground.

Kids play in Little Flower Playground, on Madison St. on the Lower East Side.  (Arianna Skibell/ New York City Lens).

Little Flower Playground is nestled within The LaGuardia housing project on Madison St. between Clinton St. and Rutgers St. on the Lower East Side. The small courtyard there is mysteriously covered in autumn leaves. A green jungle gym stands on one side of the park; a swing set and basketball court stand on the other. A girl in a pink shirt runs by the swings, her tightly knotted bun bouncing as she moves. She sings to the birds and they sing back. One boy, in a camouflage T-shirt, manipulates the water fountain so water shoots high into the air.

On the basketball court, an older boy with thick curly hair helps a smaller girl learn to skateboard. She stands on the skateboard, holding the older boy’s hands as he slowly pulls her along the asphalt. “I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” she cries.

A small tot, wearing a black shirt that reads, it’s good to be the king, pumps his legs as he swings towards the sky. He screams for the children on the basketball court to come join him. But—busy learning to skateboard—they ignore him. Frustrated, he jumps from the swings and runs to the court. He grabs the little girl’s doll and throws it. When she leaps from the skateboard to retrieve her Barbie, the “king” steals the skateboard. He plops down on it, his bottom in the middle, both legs firm on the ground. As he starts to scoot away, the older boy, who is considerably larger, puts his foot down on the end of the board. The king clutches the skateboard, wrapping his arms and legs around it, as it rises to a 45-degree angle.

Unable to move, the king loses interest in the skateboard, abandoning it to climb the wire-fence enclosing the basketball court. With child-like grace, the dispute is forgotten. The little girl and older boy join the king in his pursuit to climb up the fence and leap onto the nearby basketball pole. The king smiles.