MARCO ISLAND — The Wall That Heals, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, is coming to Marco Island for a five-day stay at Veterans Community Park.
On Dec. 6, large tractor-trailers will carry the moveable monument here for assembly and display in the park. The tractor-trailers then will be transformed into a museum that accompanies the wall. If all goes well, the wall will welcome visitors from Dec. 7-10.
The complicated deal that will bring the wall to Marco was confirmed just this past Monday, in a phone conversation between wall officials and Lee Rubenstein, a member and past commander of Marco’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6370.
“We are thrilled and excited to bring this exhibit to Marco,” Lee says. “Anyone who has seen the Memorial in Washington knows the impact this traveling wall has on people who see it.
“I think we can expect large crowds of people to come see the wall and pay their respects.”
Lee is organizing teams of volunteers, many from patriotic organizations, to give the traveling Wall That Heals motorcycle escorts at it rolls into northern Florida and a police escort as it nears Marco.
Already several Marco businesses and other groups are inquiring about being sponsors of the wall’s visit. One example, the Marco Beach Hilton, will offer food and lodging to the crew that travels with and assembles the wall, then takes it apart for its next location.
Lee jumped through a few hoops to make the exhibit’s visit here possible. At first, it didn’t look promising.
“I wanted to get it for the 11.11.11 dedication ceremony at the park, but I found out there’s a two-year wait. I was sort of discouraged, but I told the director of the memorial in DC that if anything opens up to please call me. A few weeks ago, I called again, but he said Nov. 11 was still taken.
“He asked would we host the wall in December. I asked which year and he said this year, that they’d had a cancellation. I said we’ll take it. I contacted the city and the committee here and the dates were good, so here we go.”
As described in the website for The Wall That Heals, “The exhibition features a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is approximately 250 feet in length, and like the original Memorial is erected in a chevron-shape. The replica is complete with the 58,272 names of those killed or missing in action from the conflict. When new names are added to the Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Wall That Heals is updated.
“The replica is constructed of powder-coated aluminum, supported by an aluminum frame, and is made up of 24 individual panels, each containing six columns of names. The panels join together to form the structure.
“The names on The Wall That Heals replicate the names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. The names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back in to the center/apex. Thus, the beginning and ending of the conflict are joined at the center.”
Lee says the wall will be placed in the large grass area of the park and the museum trailers will be in the parking area.
For more details of the exhibit, the web site is www.vvmf.org.
– Don Farmer, Chris Curle
Casey Weston to headline Bayshore fest
Casey Weston, country singer, guitarist, and finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” this season, will be the headline performer at the annual Bayshore Festival of the Arts presented by Bayshore Cultural & Performing Arts Center (CAPA) on Jan. 28 and 29, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Collier County’s Sugden Regional Park in Naples. Weston will perform on Saturday.
More than 250 Southwest Florida performing artists and the Band of the United States Air Force Reserve will entertain festival attendees. In addition, the Bayshore Festival of the Arts will include an art show featuring the works of juried local visual artists.
Music will alternate between two stages. Saturday’s lineup includes award-winning Seacrest High School Chorus, Inish Celtic Trio, Tir Na Nog Celtic Dancers, Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus, Frontline Bluegrass, and Collier County’s pride and joy, Casey Weston.
Sunday’s eclectic mix of music includes the Naples Klezmer Revival Band, Naples Concert Band, the Rebecca Richardson Quartet, the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quintet, and will close with a rousing performance by the Band of the United States Air Force Reserve from Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
Naples restaurants and food vendors will provide food and beverage for sale at the Festival.
“Bring your dancing shoes, chairs, blankets, and be prepared for two days of fabulous entertainment and inspirational art.” said Bayshore Cultural & Performing Arts Center Vice President Chellie Doepke in a news release announcing the festival and its headliners.
The Bayshore Festival of the Arts is free and open to the public. Donations are encouraged.
For information on Bayshore CAPA or the Bayshore Festival of the Arts, call the CAPA office at (239)775-2800 or visit www.bayshoreCAPA.org.
Weston will appear at two other Southwest Florida events in the coming season: at the Women Today event at Germain Arena Sept. 30 and Oct. 1; and at tthe Marco Island Music Festival Oct. 29. Currently, however,, she is touring with other finalists from “The Voice.” Their tour opens Wednesday in Los Angeles and is scheduled to play six dates from Las Vegas to New York.