Willingboro Amphitheater Shines at National Poetry Month Event


EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was produced as part of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University’s South Jersey Information Equity Project fellowship and supported with funding from the Independence Public Media Foundation.

By Sade Osuji | AC JosepH Media

WILLINGBORO — The newly renovated Willingboro Amphitheater was on full display during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and events celebrating National Poetry Month by the Willingboro Recreation and Parks Department this past weekend.

Poets, comedians and other performers took part in the free Willingboro Open Mic night after the ribbon cutting on April 21.

The amphitheater is a sloping, semicircular seating gallery located adjacent to the Willingboro Public Library. It has recently been renovated for the public to take advantage of the space to host events catering to the arts and artistic expression. 

The Willingboro Amphitheater was built in 2003. Over the years, the foundation structure became unsafe for the public to enjoy. The township believed it was best to restore the space so that people could gather. 

According to the Public Information Officer, Tanya Jackson, the project started in August 2022 and ended in November 2022. The approximate cost of the renovation was $465,000. The township is anticipating it will be a place of entertainment and community recreation that all can enjoy.

In a video posted on Aug. 11, 2022, on the official Willingboro Township Facebook page, Willingboro’s Township Manager, Dwayne Harris, is seen at the construction site of the Amphitheater Project.

Harris shared his excitement for the project and said, “Willingboro has a lot of great recreational programs, but this is really an opportunity to bring some artistic entertainment into the township.

Along with the work at the John F. Kennedy Center Theater which will help make Willingboro a destination location for people to come to.” 

“I am excited for the amphitheater to open up,” said Shamika Lennon, a resident and employee of one of the Willingboro Public Schools. “I feel like a lot of fun events will happen there. It will be my first time sitting there, at the ribbon cutting ceremony.”

The Willingboro Recreation and Parks have been coordinating Open Mic Nights for the past 12 years. 

Normally these events are held every third Friday of the month at the John F. Kennedy Center, however, due to the completion of the amphitheater project, the Willingboro Recreation and Parks Department and the Willingboro Township Department decided to celebrate at the amphitheater with spoken word, music, and comedy. 

The event will be hosted by Poetyss, a Willingboro native, poet, writer, and performer. Poetyss has been a poet for over 30 years and was given the opportunity to start hosting by the original creator of the event, Todd Evans.

“In the summer of 2021, he presented me with the idea of taking over for him,” Poetyss said. “With his guidance, I hosted my first event in April of 2022.” 

Township Manager, Harris, Mayor Kaya McIntosh and other members of the Willingboro Township Council attended the ribbon cutting. 

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