First Walnut Street Bridge plaque ceremony honors Ochs, Jordan

First Walnut Street Bridge plaque ceremony honors Ochs, Jordan

August 17th, 2011 by Andrew Pantazi in News

Actor Leslie Jordan receives his Walnut Street Bridge plaque from childhood friend Nina Jones Chapin, left, at the south end of the bridge during a Tuesday ceremony. The occasion was the first of a monthly series honoring local celebrities.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

South of the Walnut Street Bridge, the man and women who grew up together hugged and patted each other's arms.

Leslie Jordan, a television and film actor who won an Emmy Award in 2006 for his performance on "Will and Grace," was back in his hometown of Chattanooga to visit his mom, Peggy Jordan, and commemorate the Parks Foundation Walk of Honor on the bridge.

Jordan and the late Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of the Chattanooga Times and New York Times, are the first local celebrities to be honored with plaques on the bridge.

Ruth S. Holmberg, also a former publisher of The Chattanooga Times, accepted the recognition on behalf of Ochs, her grandfather.

"We don't have the key to the city," Parks Foundation President Garnet Chapin said as his wife gave them the plaques, "but we have something I think is just as good."

Garnet Chapin, left, and Ruth Holmberg welcome actor Leslie Jordan to be honored with a Walnut Street Bridge plaque at a Tuesday ceremony.

Garnet Chapin, left, and Ruth Holmberg welcome actor...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

After receiving the plaques, Jordan posed for photos with fans and talked to passers-by before announcing, "We're in a hurry to make a 6:30 movie I'm in."

He has a part in the newly released film, "The Help."

Each month for the next two years, the Parks Foundation will name two historically or culturally significant people with ties to Chattanooga to receive a new plaque made of zinc and plastic, Chapin said.

The middle of the west side of the bridge is being reserved for the 40 to 50 celebrities selected to the Walk of Honor.

Brass plaques that were already on the bridge, holding the names of people who had contributed money to its renovation, were being stolen because of the metal's value. In 2009, a campaign was started to replace the brass plaques with zinc ones.

The zinc plaques are not as valuable and sponsors hope they will last longer, Chapin said. Under normal circumstances, the new plaques should last at least 20 years, he said.

Connect with the Times Free Press on Facebook