COLUMBIA, Mo. - Dozens of Columbia kids showed up Tuesday for the first night of Moonlight Hoops in Douglass Park.
The program, now running more than 20 years, had been delayed this summer because of a lack of coaches.
"We love Douglass Park," said organizer Tracy Edwards. "Why have we been doing this 22-23 years? We all grew up in Douglass Park."
Edwards, one of the key leaders, has spend time in the hospital. He said he got out just in time to help get the program off the ground again this year.
The program has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same.
"You get bad apples everywhere," Edwards said. "We've got to get those bad apples out and try to keep positive."
Moonlight Hoops has spun off many other teams and been a launching point for coaches and friendships.
Brandon Gleason said Tuesday night he volunteered to coach his younger brother's team because he wants to be a coach at the Show Me State Games.
Columbia police had a strong presence at the program Tuesday night. Both organizers and the city said its an important way to keep youth off the streets and out of trouble.
Douglass Park is no stranger to trouble, the site of violence in 2012. That's when Columbia police started to maintain two officers in the area to try to build trust with nearby residents.
Moonlight Hoops still needs sponsors to reach the normal 10 teams. Sponsorship opportunities are available on the Columbia Parks and Recreation website and the program runs Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the end of July.
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