Organizers of the Day of Unity held their final meeting today and agree that large crowds are anticipated. Because of this, organizers encourage participants to plan accordingly for arrival times and parking during a busy day of activities, including the Walk of Unity and the Memorial Program at Cunningham Park.
For those planning to start the walk at the Duquesne roundabout or at WalMart in Joplin, please note that the walks will start promptly at their designated times. Duquesne group will begin at 2 p.m. and Joplin’s group will leave the parking lot on 17th Street at 2:30 p.m. Walkers are asked to please arrive early to ensure an efficient start to the 3.7 mile walk.
Parking will be available near the start of each location. In Duquesne, the public can park on lots surrounding the start area. In Joplin, several retailers near the start area have offered their lots for use. Participants are asked to please be courteous and leave storefront spots open. Carpooling to the event is strongly encouraged.
A return shuttle to the Range Line parking areas from Cunningham Park will be available from the south parking lot of Cunningham Park, following the program. Shuttles will being running at approximately 6:30 p.m. There will be several buses serving as shuttles that evening to help with the large crowd that is anticipated. For those attending events at commemorative stops, the shuttles will travel back to Range Line utilizing the walk route, so they will also be able to drop off participants at these stop locations. Riders are asked to notify the shuttle driver of their preferred drop-off location when boarding.
Parking for Cunningham Park and other commemorative stops will be available in their adjacent neighborhoods. Please note that the main walk route will be closed at approximately 12 noon on Tuesday, May 22, so please plan your trip accordingly. We encourage everyone to allow extra time for traveling through the City due to the street closures, and increased traffic.
For those who are planning to join the community at Cunningham Park, please bring lawn chairs. Seating will be available, although with a large crowd, it may be limited. Event organizers would appreciate anyone who can bring lawn chairs for their seating to please do so to help accommodate as many people as possible.
A map of the walk route is available on the anniversary website, www.joplintornadoanniversary.com. The map outlines the Unity Walk’s route, as well as the four commemorative stops, as well as hydration and first aid stations and portable toilet locations.
The Walk is the first part of the Day of Unity recognizing the one-year anniversary of the May 22 tornado that devastated one-third of the Joplin community and a good portion of Duquesne before traveling further into rural Jasper County and Newton County. Following the Walk, there will be a program held at Cunningham Park for all to attend.
“The Day of Unity is simply that – a day to come together as we are – and recognize the historic year that we’ve been through together,” said Rohr. “As the event committee has said before, we’re not inviting anyone – we’re inviting EVERYONE to be a part of these events.”
On Tuesday, May 22, residents and officials from Duquesne will walk west toward Joplin, starting the Walk of Unity at 2 p.m. from the round-about at 20thStreet and Duquesne Road. They will then join a larger group waiting at Wal-Mart,17th and Range Line, to begin their walk at 2:30 p.m. Walkers will head west and wind through the path of the tornado until reaching the final destination set at Cunningham Park.
Four commemorative stops are planned during the walk, including:
Stop #1: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 22nd Street and Indiana, recognizing the recovery of the faith-based community. This stop is scheduled for approximately 3:15 p.m.
Stop #2: Joplin High School Ground-Breaking Event commemorating the rebuilding of our schools. Time of this event is approximately 3:40 p.m.
Stop #3: “Irving Playground” at 25th and Wall Streets, offers a fun event for children and families. 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.
Stop #4: At 26th and Bird Avenue, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce for a Business Ribbon Cutting for Kraft Insurance Services, commemorating the 550+ businesses affected by the tornado. This stop is scheduled for approximately 4:45 p.m.
West Group travels to Cunningham Park: At 4:30 p.m., those living in the west area of Joplin, a group will be leaving St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 2423 West 26th Street, and walk east to Cunningham Park to join the Unity Group.
The Day of Unity Program begins at approximately 5:15 p.m. in Cunningham Park. There will be a moment of silence at 5:41 p.m. for one minute to honor those who died due to the May 22, 2011 tornado. The program consists of remembrance activities of music, prayer, and reflections. More details will be released soon.
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.
For more information about this event or other activities recognizing the one-year anniversary, go to www.joplintornadoanniversary.com.