Recreating Lin-Manuel Miranda's Childhood Memories

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Play at Payson

By Luis A. Miranda
Manhattan Times July 19, 2017

Luz, Abuela Claudia and I spent countless hours at the Payson Avenue Playground, located on the corner of the same street where we have lived since 1981. During the 80’s, it was the magical place where our little Lin-Manuel played for hours on the swings and slides. He would run around and around until it was time for his afternoon nap.

Decades later, our nephew Miguel’s favorite place was also Payson Avenue Playground.  Abuela Claudia, Rosa, Landa, Luz and I spent countless hours alternating between keeping watch and joining in his games until Miguel tired himself out. During that time the Parks Department had modernized the playground and Miguel’s favorite activity was to run in and out of the sprinklers that shot out showers until his play clothes were drenched. I would often sing him the same lullaby in Spanish I used to sing to Lin-Manuel.

Recently when we needed to film a short documentary together as a family, we all met at Payson Avenue Playground. We wanted to create a new memory within the same place that had been so special for two generations over 36 years.

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While we were there, we soon saw how a third generation was enjoying the park as much as Lin-Manuel and Miguel had when they were kids. It occurred to us to call Jennifer Hoppa, Parks Administrator in Northern Manhattan. With her warm smile and her unique desire to serve, Jennifer showed up instantly and joined with us as we discussed how to create new experiences at the Playground.

As we brainstormed, we realized that involving People’s Theatre Project, which has been serving over 1000 New Yorkers every year since 2008, would be an ideal partnership. This week, the arts organization started inviting neighborhood families to attend and enjoy theater as an active art form and as a way to participate in creating community. On July 25th, People’s Theatre Project will be back at 10 a.m.  Then on August 14, 15 and 16, they’ll lead a mini-camp for kids and families.

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I hope all our neighbors visit the corner park on those days and any other so that they too can create unique memories in that very special place for the Miranda clan – the Payson Avenue Playground.

For more information, please visit www.peoplestheatreproject.org or call 646.398.9062.