Groundbreaking for Walk of Fame Park in Texarkana this Friday

Zoie Clift
The groundbreaking for the
Arkansas Municipal Auditorium Walk of Fame Park is scheduled for this Friday in
Johnny Cash performed regularly
at the auditorium, which in now on National Register of Historic Places, as did
musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and Texarkana’s
Carl “Cheesie” Nelson.

Among the features of the
new park are a tree-filled ”green space”, memorials of past
performers, historic benches, and a Memorial Wall constructed of the
bricks salvaged by the historic Westbrook Auto building (which once housed the
horses used by the neighboring fire station fire trucks).

The design for the park was
first conceived by Mark Shoptaw and Jimmy “Smitty” Smith in
September 2007 after the Westbrook Auto building, located on the site, was
demolished due to deterioration.

Mayor Horace G. Shipp will
be among those at the scheduled groundbreaking (which starts at 4). The Grand
Opening of the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium, which now houses City Hall, was
March 5, 1930 and there will be an 80th anniversary celebration following the
groundbreaking across the street at Hopkins. 

In other news there are
plans for an Elvis Festival in town. Plans have not been finalized but the
event is tentatively scheduled to be held at Hopkins in August.
Presley’s first performance of many at the auditorium was in 1954.

In the last few years,
a project to renovate the auditorium has been under way.  Work done includes restoring and
reinserting the stained glass inside, which had been removed a few years ago,
to its original place. The Arkansas Municipal Auditorium Commission, led by
Chrystal Sloan, is behind the repair work. Their mission is to restore the historically
significant building to a visual and performing arts center. 

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