MURRAY — It is mission accomplished for the Rotary Club Amphitheater Performing Arts Pavilion project.
With the completion of the Phase 3 portion of the project that has completely changed the appearance of the central portion of Central Park in Murray, the dream that a small group of men put into motion in the 1990s has become reality. For one of them, Dick Weaver, this was more than just something that needed to happen for the club.
It needed to happen for the community, which is why in his last few years of life, he became the driving force for the club and others to finish this project while he was still alive. Although Phase 3 was finished more than a year after his death in early 2018, he and his family still had a part in it, making Thursday’s dedication of Phase 3 — the addition of dressing rooms/restrooms for performers at the pavilion — that much more meaningful.
“The first phase ended with the six rows (of seating) that were carved out for seats in the hill here and basically this concrete platform. That was it until Dick, in his own way, spurred us to get it done,” recalled Weaver’s longtime friend and fellow Rotarian Roger Reichmuth as he stood beneath the large wooden canopy that consisted of Phase 2 in 2016 and dramatically changed the amphitheater’s appearance.
“Phase 1 and 2 involved the community, basically. It also involved Rotary too, along with big donors along the way, and others. We reached out to people in the Kroger parking lot and Walmart parking lot and it really became a community event at the time. So when we decided to go ahead with Phase 3 (earlier this year), we determined that we shouldn’t reach out to the community anymore. We said, ‘Let’s do this in house.’ So it was gifts from Rotary Club members but we also had a big boost from Dick because he had already promised that he wanted (nephew Lynn and his wife, Laura) to help us.”
Through the foundation Dick had formed with his wife, Jan, funds continued to be used even after Dick took his last breath in February 2018 at the age of 90. A plaque to be displayed on the new building that will encase the dressing room area is dedicated to Dick’s memory.
Reichmuth also did not forget the others who teamed with Dick to begin this journey in the first place. These included Ron Churchill, Ed Shinners and Leroy Eldridge.
“I’m really proud of this amphitheater,” said 2019-20 Rotary President James Gallimore on Thursday, remembering back to 2016 when the Phase 2 canopy was constructed. He and Reichmuth are co-chairmen of the Rotary Amphitheater Committee. “When we were constructing the amphitheater, (Dick) would sit in his car and watch because he couldn’t walk too well, but he watched us and, when we put his military medal up in the very peak of the amphitheater (that to this day is displayed with a penny that was synonymous with fellow Rotarian and former Murray Mayor Bill Wells) he gave me a thumbs up.
“But he contributed a lot to this and his family helped too. They contributed quite a bit to this and, without them, I don’t know if we would’ve made it. They did it because they wanted it as well.”
Murray-Calloway County Park Board Chairman Jason Lovett said the completion of the dressing room building, which has been named the Amphitheater Annex, serves as a reminder of how a long-standing tradition in the community shined once again — togetherness.
“This park, this amphitheater, is all about people working together. That’s how it was more than 40 years ago when this park was created and it’s still happening today. This is proof of that,” Lovett said, remembering Weaver. “He was always a friend of the park for as long as we’ve been here. He always helped us with projects and he gave a lot of advice. He’d come in and look at things and tell us what he felt we needed to do.
“We wouldn’t be here without him.”
While catering to performers of music concerts, theater shows and other forms of entertainment is the main role for the new annex, Lovett also said this facility can serve as a dressing room for bridal parties for weddings, as well as a place to prepare food items for receptions under the pavilion canopy.