The NFL, L.A. Rams, City of Inglewood, Super Bowl LVI committee, and Verizon partnered to host the Passing of the Golden Shovel ceremony and beautification project (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Earlier this month, the NFL Green culminated their environmental projects in the Los Angeles area in honor of Super Bowl LVI at the Passing of the Golden Shovel ceremony in Darby Park in Inglewood. Los Angeles will now pass the Golden Shovel to Phoenix, Ariz., the host city for Super Bowl LVII.

The Super Bowl LVI host committee, the City of Inglewood, the NFL, the L.A. Rams, and Verizon partnered to host the ceremony along with a beautification project at Darby Park.

Volunteers throughout the community, including members from the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, planted trees and drought-resistant plants and gave park furniture a fresh coat of paint.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. helped plant trees (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“They came here last year before the Super Bowl, planted trees and we are back at Darby Park to plant more trees,” said Inglewood mayor James Butts. “If you look at the heat of the summer and you look at the change in climate, planting more trees is ecologically friendly, it helps the world and so we’re proud of that.”

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Due to water restrictions in Los Angeles County, reclaimed water was used on the new plants and trees. After the restrictions are lifted, hundreds more drought tolerant and flowering plants will also be added to Darby Park.

“Inglewood and the L.A. area have been such fantastic hosts for our Super Bowl here. We want to leave things better than we found them,” said NFL Environmental Program director Susan Groh. “When we come into a city, we look at the issues that are facing that city on the environmental front and we work to address those along with fantastic partners like the city of Inglewood.”

Inglewood mayor James Butts helps plant trees at Darby Park (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The L.A. Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 at Super Bowl LVI. District 4 councilmember Dionne Faulk called it “a Blessed year.”

“I’m still on a high from that whole experience,” Faulk said. “We’re trying to rebuild Inglewood these days, not only with the stadium, the Intuit Dome that’s coming but also for our community, for our kids.”

During the 2021-2022 football season, NFL Green completed 12 projects, including partnering with TreePeople to plant trees in Watts. Other projects included restoring a kelp forest, creating community gardens, and doing habitat restoration and pollinator planning projects.

“It’s a great initiative, it shows that it’s more than just sports, that they are in Inglewood now and that shows that they care about the actual city,” said Sigma Gamma Rho Theta Upsilon chapter member Brandi Redick. “Moving around from city to city and park to park really shows their commitment to the environment.”

Member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority Inc. help beautify Darby Park (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

NFL Green held their first project to celebrate Super Bowl LVI in September 2021 when they planted 56 trees in Edward Vincent Junior Park. Delta Sigma Theta member Carol Raines-Brown is glad to see how the NFL is giving back to the community.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and just help beautify our city,” Raines-Brown said. “Our parks is where our children and our families actually come and gather and when the NFL, which makes a lot of money, invest back into the community, it means a lot.”

Kappa Alpha Psi Gamma Epsilon chapter member Aaron Brown takes pride in helping the community through the beautification project.

“It’s a pleasure to help and change the scenery around,” Brown said. “People in the community actually deserve better than just dirt around opposed to seeing nice trees and somewhere to sit and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere.”