After weeks of not-so-quiet rumors, it has been confirmed by event organizers that Harry Connick Jr. will perform on Sept. 16 at Ross's Landing as part of "Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute on the River."
The event is designed to be a citywide memorial/celebration/fundraiser for the five servicemen killed in Chattanooga on July 16.
The date corresponds with the two-month anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall S. Smith and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells.
Though admission is free and nearly all of the expenses involved in staging such a large event are being provided at no cost, attendees are asked to make donations. All the money raised will go to the National Compassion Fund, which provides for victims of mass casualty crimes, including shootings and terrorist attacks.
The event will get underway at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 with a parade down Market Street to Ross's Landing. At the riverfront, several dignitaries including military and city officials will speak. A choir comprising several local groups will perform and the fallen servicemen and their families will be honored.
Actor and Chattanooga native Samuel L. Jackson will be emcee for the event.
Connick and his band will begin performing around 5:30 p.m., according to Friends of the Festival public relations coordinator Amy Morrow. Friends of the Festival produces the annual Riverbend Festival and is responsible for booking events at Ross's Landing. Friends officials have worked with the city, as well as military officials and Clear Channel of Chattanooga, to put the event together.
At 7 p.m., country singer Brantley Gilbert will take the Coca-Cola Stage, which is normally just used during Riverbend, but which will be pulled out of storage at Hale's Bar for the event. Friends is also erecting four large screens similar to what it uses during Riverbend for the event.
The tribute, with the involvement of Jackson and Gilbert, was announced on Aug. 17, and officials announced that they would be adding others to the lineup. They said then they had approached Connick about performing, but it took this long to work out the details.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.