About 125 people turned out Saturday to observe the dedication of the new Legacy Amphitheater in Memorial Park in Ladysmith.
The new amphitheater and bandshell first proposed with seating for 288 people grew to now accommodate between 500 and 600 spectators.
The amphitheater seating area was constructed as an Environmental Challenge Project by the Wildlife Restoration Association. The bandshell was built by the Ladysmith Lions Club as the organization’s Legacy Project honoring the 100th anniversary of Lions Club International and the 50th anniversary of the local chapter. The joint project had the backing of the Ladysmith Park Board and the city’s common council, which voted to contribute $25,000 toward electrical, lighting and other aspects of the work.
The event included a ribbon-cutting put on by the greater Ladysmith Area Chamber of Commerce to mark the event, as well as addresses by those who played key roles in the planning and construction of the theater.
The International Lions President asked all clubs worldwide to do a Centennial Community Legacy Project for their community during the organization’s Centennial Celebration. The project will serve as a reminder of how important each local club is to the community during the centennial and beyond. Lions clubs around the world were encouraged to complete a Legacy Project by June 30 this year.
Centennial Community Legacy Projects are designed to help clubs connect with their communities and create a visible and lasting Lions legacy. The amphitheater is an opportunity to showcase the local chapter’s service and club to the community. It was also an opportunity for the community to become involved and be a part of the legacy.
The Ladysmith Lions Club has raised about $182,000 for the development so far, according to Past President Dick Moore. He said another $25,000 is still needed to complete the project.
“I am very tickled with the way it turned out. I am very proud of it,” Moore said.
About 98 percent of the work to build the facility was done by volunteers, according to Moore. He said most of the money the club raised came from the local community, thanking all who contributed.
A donor wall is planned for the east side of the structure to show the public who made contributions.
“We’d like to finish the project. It is close, but there is still work to be done,” Moore said.
Lions Club Past International Director Mike Molenda praised the coalition that organized to build the amphitheater, citing the many who contributed.
“Talk about a community project,” Molenda said. “A total of 136 items of community support. I don’t think any community could ask for more than that.”
Former Ladysmith Park Board Chairman Carol Huiras-Rozak spoke about how the Lions and WRA were providing the lions share of the development.
“What a magnificent gift,” Huiras-Rozak said. “The majority of this was all built by themselves. I am just blown away by how fast this all went and how wonderfully this all turned out.”
“What you see here today is a full circle of community service and spirit. It is a perfect picture of dedication, determination, collaboration, cooperation, education, volunteerism and personal sacrifice,” Huiras-Rozak said.
Wisconsin Assembly 87th District Rep. Jim Edming presented Ladysmith Lions Club members with a proclamation signed by Gov. Scott Walker. “There was a lot of people who got together to make this happen,” he said.
WRA President Jerry Carow told the audience the group has roughly matched the Lions Club’s investment through money spent on materials and through the organization’s Environmental Challenge group. “It has been an interesting process with our board to even get to that point, but we are certainly very proud of how it worked,” he said.
“There is no limitation to what we can do other than the ambition it takes to do them,” Carow said.
Carow cited other collaborations between the WRA and Ladysmith Lions Club, focusing on the club’s annual Fun on the Frozen Flambeau ice fishing contest that helps raise money to improve habitat in the Dairyland Flowage waterway. He also cited the 24 high school students and four college students who assisted with last year’s Environmental Challenge students.
He said the amphitheater project was highly visible compared with the dozens of past Environmental Challenge projects that often occurred with little recognition.
“As you watch a project like this continue you understand that it is we as parents and grandparents that don’t allow them the opportunity to do the things that are both physical and mind-challenging and to develop into the leaders of the world that they are going to develop into,” Carow said. “That is an enjoyment for me that I get to see every summer. We will start off again Monday with another five weeks of all those high school kids and we will do projects all over the county.”
The event included an introduction by Current Ladysmith Lions Club President Curt Pratt and an invocation by PCC Sam Kochel. Vanessa Hoefs sang the National Anthem. Former Ladysmtih News Editor John Terrill and local historian gave a review of how Memorial Park came to be a century ago.