What: Community Theatre Grand Rededication Ceremony
Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
When: 10:30 a.m. today, Feb. 28
Chattanoogans will get their first look at the newly renovated Community Theatre inside Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium this morning.
The $1 million update culminates with a Grand Rededication Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. that will include a ribbon-cutting, patriotic music and demonstrations of the new veterans kiosks in the main lobby of the auditorium.
"The kiosks are marble, made to match the auditorium foyer, and they are made in the shape of the Washington Monument. They have big, 46-inch monitors on top," says retired Adm. Vance Fry, who co-chaired the renovation steering committee with Jim Bailiff.
"They are intended to be an information connection system for veterans of all branches of service. The idea is to get veterans to enter their service records and photos of themselves, hopefully in uniform, along with any awards they've gotten," thereby creating a computerized record of all veterans living in the area.
Fry says he got the idea after visiting the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"The Navy has (a similar databank) just for Navy and Marine Corps veterans there. We decided to do it for all veterans within a 100-mile radius of Chattanooga," says Fry.
The local effort has drawn the notice of retired Vice Adm. John Toteshek, civilian director of the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"He is interested in what we are doing here," says Fry of his friend, so Toteshek will attend this morning's rededication.
After demonstrations on using the kiosks, guests will make their way upstairs at 11 a.m. to the Community Theatre. An elevator has been installed as part of this renovation, so the venue is now in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The renovated 750-seat theater has new seating, new carpeting, and the stage and lighting system have been redone, according to Fry.
The rededication ceremony will include a ribbon-cutting by city officials, presentation of colors by a military color guard and special acknowledgments. Pianists Margaret Ann Randolph and Ellen Stout will play, and Margaret Abernathy will sing "God Bless America," according to Donna Landry, marketing director for the auditorium.
Landry says that a reception will be held in the main lobby of the auditorium following the rededication ceremony.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...