With comedy nights and concerts, Spaceboy Clothing spearheads an effort to help revitalize a neglected area of Wilmington
Two years ago, the park on Fourth and Shipley streets in Wilmington stood abandoned and rundown. Since then, Spaceboy Clothing has led a movement to make what is now known as Humble Park, a part of downtown Wilmington’s revitalized nightlife.
The initiative got its start when Spaceboy, a custom clothing store on Market Street, partnered with comedian Brandon Jackson to host comedy nights in the store’s basement.
“We were doing comedy shows in our basement for a while and it started to get really popular,” says David Sanchez, co-owner of Spaceboy Clothing.
The crowds got so large, in fact, that it became a fire hazard to continue hosting them in the basement. So Sanchez began to look at other venues. That’s when the park down the road caught his eye.
Officially named Delaware Tech Plaza, the park features a large sculpture shaped like a sail. When Sanchez thought about using it to host a series of events, he reached out to the artist who created the sculpture, Ric Snead, who gave his blessing to hang a “Humble Park” sign on the sculpture.
“I wanted everyone to feel welcome there. No matter who you are you shouldn’t have to feel like you are better or not as good as someone else,” Sanchez says. “That’s where the humble comes from.”
Enter Downtown Visions
Although there have been efforts to officially rename Delaware Tech Plaza, nothing definitive has happened yet, but members of the community have begun referring to the area as “Humble Park” instead of the rather cumbersome Delaware Tech Plaza.
To clean up the park and organize a series of events at the site, Sanchez approached Downtown Visions, a nonprofit that has been working to revitalize downtown Wilmington since 1994.
“They contacted us to see how they could have an event at that park,” says Lani Schweiger, Project and Communication manager for Downtown Visions. “We helped with getting permits from the city. The park was forgotten and kind of run down. There was a volunteer day where local neighbors, businesses, artists, residents, all came out. Downtown Visions staff, the city Public Works also were out there.” ?
Now in its second year of using Humble Park, Spaceboy Clothing organized six events this past summer in a series christened “Keep It Cool.” The events included comedy nights hosted and led by Jackson as well as concerts featuring bands like The Bad Larrys, Gozer and Eye Bawl.
“It’s a big, huge community gathering at this park that no one knew about to promote the city and get people together and open people’s eyes,” Sanchez says.
Sanchez and his business partner, Noah Merenda, don’t just want to run a business in Wilmington. They want to use their business to connect the Wilmington community and build a culture of music and entertainment downtown.
“You go to all these other cities and there is stuff happening,” Sanchez says. “I see Wilmington, it’s on its up and up, but we need more of a selection, more options and just more stuff going on downtown.”
While Sanchez and Spaceboy Clothing are just starting out, this isn’t Downtown Visions’ first rodeo. They assist in setting up the Cinco De Mayo festival and the Downtown Brew Fest every year. But the Keep It Cool series of events is unique for them.
“Fourth Street disconnects Market a little,” Schweiger says. “The park is right in that area. Cleaning up the park and programming it, it connected things a little better. It’s another way to reinvigorate the park as a community space that artists can come and collaborate, and the community can come and hang out and feel safe.”
Other Sponsors Pitch in
Downtown Visions isn’t the only local organization that has helped these events get off the ground. Sponsors include IN Wilmington, Bruce Productions, Poppycock Tattoo, Jerry’s Artarama, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Tri-State Underground and Southbound Comedy.
All the money Spaceboy Clothing receives from these sponsors goes toward Humble Park and paying the artists who perform there, according to Sanchez.
“Spaceboy doesn’t make any money,” he says. “If anything, we are spending money on this.”
It’s too cold to host events at Humble Park over the winter, so Sanchez and Merenda hope to eventually resume events in the basement of their store to fill the void in the calendar.
“I’m hoping to do art gallery stuff, more music events, flea markets, anything to bring people into the store and into the city,” Sanchez says. Before that can happen, he says, they have to clean up the space to increase the number of people the basement can safely hold.
The last event for this year’s Keep It Cool series was a comedy night hosted by Brandon Jackson at Humble Park on Oct. 5. Although there will be a pause in events until next summer, Sanchez says Spaceboy Clothing looks forward to continuing to contribute to the downtown community.
“We have to use that business as a tool and as an outlet for the community for more than just to make money,” he says.