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Once Swarmed With Gangs, Holly Square Now A Place Of Peace

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A new basketball court at Holly Square (credit: CBS)

A new basketball court at Holly Square (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Holly Square is a place of peace after a devastating fire several years ago.

The project stems back to when Gov. John Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver. A dedicated group of volunteers and generous donors have worked tirelessly to build a safe place for area youth, and in recent weeks the area has gotten a whole new look.

James Chapman remembers that part of Park Hill when he moved to Denver in 1972.

“It was just full of prosperity, shops, kids running up and down the street, playing, skateboarding,” Chapman said.

It was a far cry from the images that played out in 2008 when feuding gangs torched Holly Square. Businesses were lost and bad memories were left behind.

“We as community members, the 99 percent, are fed up,” Chapman said.

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An entire community is now taking the area back. On a hot Saturday more than 100 volunteers turned out to paint, pull weeds and set up new basket ball courts.

“Today is our day to show our youth that they do have positive role models,” a volunteer told the group.

It’s a corner transforming away from violence and into a positive place for young people. It’s also a place to remember a Denver hero — fallen Officer Celina Hollis.

celena hollis2 Once Swarmed With Gangs, Holly Square Now A Place Of Peace

Celena Hollis (credit: Denver Police)

“I think what I like the most about it is getting people together and play,” a young boy said.

Generous donations along with good old sweat and tears are helping create new memories for Holly Square. It began with smiles at the groundbreaking. Chapman and other longtime locals say it’s just the beginning.

“I want to get the message out to everyone in the community,” he said. “Let’s just live and love life.”

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