As the one-year anniversary draws near, City Manager Mark Rohr reminds the public that all are welcome to join fellow citizens, city officials, community leaders and volunteers during the Walk of Unity planned for May 22, 2012.
“During meetings of the Memorial Committee, the decision was made to not invite anyone specifically, but to invite everyone generally,” said Rohr. “That’s because we’re all one. No one is separate from the group, and that is what has gotten us this far. We are one community moving in one direction.”
The Walk of Unity starts at 2 p.m. from the round-about at 20th Street and Duquesne Road with residents and officials from Duquesne walking west toward Joplin to join a group waiting at Wal-Mart to begin their walk.
At 2:30 p.m. the Walk of Unity leaves the parking lot area of Wal-Mart at 17th and Range Line. Walkers will head west on 17th Street, and turn south on Texas Avenue to reach 20th Street, where they will continue walking west until Wisconsin Avenue.
Stop #1: At Wisconsin, the group will walk south and head toward 22nd Street to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and take an approximate 20-minute break while a brief ecumenical service is held and the steeple is raised and put into place in representation of the faith-based community’s recovery. This stop is scheduled for approximately 3:15 p.m.
Stop #2: The group will then move across Indiana Avenue and into the Joplin High School parking lot, heading west on the asphalt path. There will be a 20-minute stop near the former baseball field (22nd & Iowa) for the Joplin High School Ground-Breaking Event commemorating the rebuilding of our schools. Time of this event is approximately 3:40 p.m.
Stop #3: Walkers will then continue on 24th Street heading west to Pennsylvania Avenue, turn south for one block and turn right onto 25th Street crossing Main Street. As the group moves westward, they will stop at the “Irving Playground” at 25th and Wall Streets, in the former Irving School area. This fun event is hosted by the Boomtown Days and Community Partnership groups, and offers activities for all ages including make your own pinwheel, kite flying, sidewalk chalk art, bird house building, inflatable football throw, mini putt putt, fun photo booth, face painting, other arts and crafts projects and a tree give away. Music will be provided by Offset Sunset. It will be open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Walk for Unity group is scheduled to stop here at approximately 4:15 p.m.
The group will then walk west on 26th Street, and have an opportunity to view the large cross that still stands representing the St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Parish Center and St. Mary’s Elementary School that were destroyed by the tornado. The cross in just north of 26th Street.
Stop #4: At 26th and Bird Avenue, the group will gather with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce for a Business Ribbon Cutting for Kraft Insurance Services, commemorating the 550+ businesses affected by the tornado. Over 80% of businesses have reopened or are in the process of reopening. This stop is scheduled for approximately 4:45 p.m.
As the group finishes the walk, heading west to Cunningham Park, the group will see the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center in the demolition phase, but also see the temporary Mercy Hospital Joplin, just south of 26th Street, that is now open and serves as testimony to the recovery of their mission and ministry.
Cunningham Park: Once at the Park, walkers can get a drink of water prior to the Day of Unity program scheduled to start at approximately 5:15 p.m. More details will be provided as they are finalized about the program. Participants should note that there will be a moment of silence at 5:41 p.m. The program will conclude near 6 p.m. Other informal activities will follow the program, and participants are welcome to enjoy the park throughout the evening. Details will be announced as they are finalized.
The walk is approximately three and a half miles. Numerous hydration stations will be located along the route, as well as portable toilets. A map of the route with marked stations will also be available soon on www.joplintornadoanniversary.com.
“We invite everyone who wants to be a part of this event, to please join in the Day of Unity, whether they choose to walk or maybe attend one of the commemorative stops planned along the route, or meet us at the Park. It’s their day.”
For those who may not be able to participate, Zimmer Radio’s News Talk KZRG will broadcast live updates from the Walk of Unity & the concluding program at Cunningham Park. It will be aired live just as it was one year ago on KZRG. Listeners can turn their radios to FM 102.9 or AM 1310 News Talk KZRG, log on to www.NewsTalkKZRG.com or download the free KZRG app for their Apple or Droid devices to join Joplin in this Day of Unity.
Please note that times given for the various stops are approximate. Actual times of events will depend on the number of walkers participating, as well as the pace of the group.
Organizers recommend that participants carpool to attend the Day of Unity events. Parking will be available at the 17th and Rangeline area, and return transportation will be available following the program at Cunningham Park. For more information or updates on parking and other details, continue to checkwww.joplintornadoanniversary.com.