Mural ceremony to draw attention to downtown

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Since the floodwall murals were completed in November, those who helped see the project to completion have been eagerly anticipating July 7.

Actually, the entire project hasn't been completed just yet, with the sidewalk lining the wall and the reader boards explaining the significance of each of the 24 scenes still under construction. But by July 7, those things will be in place, and the official dedication of the massive downtown beautification project will be held at noon.

Tim Blattner with the River Heritage Mural Association, the group that initiated the project with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it will be a great day for downtown.

"The purpose of the dedication is to draw attention to the accomplishments of the improvements in the downtown area and all the effort that's being made to develop tourism in general," Blattner said.

The event will feature remarks by the director of Missouri's division of tourism John Robinson, the project's lead artist Thomas Melvin, Mayor Jay Knudtson and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.

Emerson's office helped secure much of the funding for the project through federal appropriations of $175,000.

The day will be especially touching for Emerson, she said, as her late husband, Bill, is pictured in the 24th panel.

The total project cost was about $300,000, Blattner said, not including assistance from the city in making a one-way Water Street and installing the sidewalk and reader boards.

The groups involved are hoping the mural will be the icing on the cake that helps attract visitors to the downtown.

"The mural is a very, very nice exclamation point on the river front," said Convention and Visitors Bureau head Chuck Martin.

Special performances by the River City Players will re-enact some of the scenes pictured in the 2,000 years of history portrayed on the wall.

The dedication is free and open to the public and will take place at the intersection of Themis and Water streets.

Just days after Libertyfest

The dedication will be the city's second celebration within a week, just three days after this year's Libertyfest, which takes place July 4.

This year Libertyfest will feature the biggest line-up of activities in its history, with musical performances by a variety of artists and the first-ever Story Fest, which will include "Tywappity Tales," a readers theater of American Indian stories read by children at Port Cape Girardeau at 6:30 p.m. and a story swap at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri on Main Street at 7:30 p.m. The story swap will give amateur storytellers the chance to flex their storytelling muscle.

Libertyfest will also feature the awarding of the Southeast Missourian's Spirit of America award at 9 p.m. and a fireworks display on the Mississippi River at about 9:30 p.m.

For more information on these events, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 334-8085.

335-6611, extension 182

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