Casey Neistat, a Milwaukee native turned YouTube star, transformed the abandoned Northridge Mall into a winter wonderland for 100 kids.

“All I could see was all of my childhood fantasies manifesting,” said Casey.

And so, the famous YouTube star is bringing new life to an abandoned mall on the northwest side. It’s the first time the mall has been revived in any way since its closing in 2003. The mall was completely empty. Broken glass, an empty food court, and eerie, boarded-up doors were all that filled the interior.

Casey partnered with Samsung to surprise 100 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Great Milwaukee to gift them electronics and show them how they can get creative with digital media. Casey was still looking for a space when he remembered the abandoned mall.

“It just turns out that Milwaukee happens to have a fantastic, huge, empty shopping mall,” recalled Casey.

Casey and Paul Leys of Samsung gave the kids smartphones, microphones, and accessories so they can learn how to create videos.

“The reason we bring people like Casey and all these different creators here is because they’re who kids look up to, and their message to these kids — and our message to kids, equally — is that you can be just like these creators. All you need is a phone,” said Paul.

The mall was transformed to include a gingerbread house, ice-skating rink, a sledding hill, and professional snowboarders who performed tricks on the escalator.

“I see it as an opportunity, and an opportunity to sort of elevate young kids and let them know that now, because of technology, they’re empowered in ways that they’ve never been empowered before,” Casey said.

CLICK the link below to see footage of Neistat’s winter wonderland on the Little Things website – and be sure to SHARE the sweet story with your friends…

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