Lebron James in 'Space Jam: A New Legacy.' This image is from the official Youtube channel of Warner Bros.

Earlier this month, while New York City was in the middle of a visit from tropical storm Elsa, it got another unexpected visitor. In anticipation of the release of “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” Warner Bros Studios hosted a block party promoting the movie at Mae Grant Park in East Harlem, inviting local kids, families, fans and influencers alike to join them for a weekend of festivities. 

The Michigan Daily attended the event, which was more than just a celebration of the new “Space Jam” movie: They also announced that the playground and specifically basketball court at Mae Grant Park will be getting a full refurbishment, courtesy of Warner Bros and the Space Jam team, set to be completed by mid-August. Renovations include new nets and backboards for the basketball hoops, along with a full-court mural by popular graffiti artist CRASH

In honor of the event, the playground got a full Looney Tunes makeover: Banners advertising the movie and cutouts depicting “Space Jam” characters and imagery adorned the fences and walls, and themed vendor tents were set up along the perimeter of the space featuring things like food, crafts and even a DJ booth. Lola and Bugs Bunny themselves came out for the event wearing their space jam gear, and there were ample opportunities for a good picture — they even had the iconic Looney Tunes “That’s all Folks!” popup for the attendees that never miss a photo-op.

When “Space Jam” came out in 1996, it left an enormous impression in its wake. Even though it did not receive high critical acclaim, the movie became an unlikely cult classic and a must-see for children raised after its release. The marriage of Looney Tunes and basketball brought something to the movie for just about everyone; with memories of the original still nostalgic for many, “A New Legacy” has big shoes to fill.

“I think community is everything,” Malcolm D. Lee, “A New Legacy” director who spoke at the event opening on Friday, said. Lee introduced their plans for updating the park and giving back to the local community, and he specifically emphasized his goal to make the court a place where everyone can come together and let the kids know that they’re valued within their local community. The park will hopefully become a place to gather and connect with others, as well as create a hub for the local youth in the years to come.

This emphasis on community struck a chord with the legacy left by the original movie, which brought so many people together through a shared love for it. Hearing the plans to bring together the local youth at the park, it felt like Lee was trying to do just that with his movie: “Space Jam: A New Legacy” aims to be a movie that brings together new and old fans worldwide.

The party hosted DJ Framos from the Z100 radio station, who highlighted the soundtrack from the new movie. Throughout the day there were various performers, activities and food available to the guests as well. The rain held off for the majority of the event, making for a fun couple of days full of laughing kids and a community brought together.

At the end of the day, the block party was about the kids in the local community and providing them with a great experience and some special memories to take home with them. It was truly an amazing moment to see them smiling over coloring sheets and showing off all the swag they got to take home from the event.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” was released in theaters and to stream on HBO: Max on Friday, July 16.

Daily Arts writer Hadley Samarco can be reached at hsamarco@umich.edu.