FORT JACKSON, S.C. (WIS) - There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday for the brand new pavilions at Centennial Park on Fort Jackson.
Just two years ago, Fort Jackson celebrated 100 years of service and shortly before that, plans for Centennial Park got underway as a gift to Fort Jackson for the big birthday.
The park is being constructed by the Gateway to the Army Association with the support of the Building Industry Association, and will ultimately include six newly built pavilions along with an Amphitheater, which will feature two granite, 20-feet high statues of drill sergeants: one male and one female. The drill sergeant is known as the iconic image of Fort Jackson, one of the nation's largest basic training facilities.
The goal is that Centennial Park will provide an extra area for families to gather during the weekly graduation ceremonies held for soldiers who complete basic training at Fort Jackson. We're told the space will be able to accommodate as many as 1,500 people.
“One of the great things that Fort Jackson provides to the City of Columbia each week is that about 5,000 people visit us to come see these graduations,” said Building Industry Association board member John Covert. “So, on Wednesday, the soldiers aren’t allowed to leave the base. So, five or 6,000 people are stuck on the base, and while it’s a great place to be, the NCO Club, the museums and the bowling alleys can get very crowded. So, this provides additional space for those families to spend time together.”
While the unveiling of these pavilions is exciting for many, there are a few things left to finish which means it will still be another six weeks before they're officially available to the public.
Organizers said they’re hoping this gift can be a community effort, and they need help completing the project through donations. They’ve raised about $1.5 million so far but still need about $1.2 million more. A GoFundMe page was recently created where you can make donations. You can also purchase a brick which will be a part of the Pathway of Patriots containing various memorials highlighting the history of Fort Jackson and the vital role our Army fulfills in protecting our liberty and freedom. For more information, visit this link.
“The individual donor that wants to give to this effort to honor the American solider at Fort Jackson – we can do this. We all know the power of something like GoFundMe and the power of social media,” said Martin Wells, chairman of the Gateway to the Army Association.
According to Covert, the idea was, “dreamed up the park as a gift to the installation from the city of Columbia, as a ‘thank you’ for what this facility means to the city of Columbia for the last hundred years.”
Each of the six pavilions are being sponsored by local homebuilders including: Covert Homes, Essex Homes, Great Southern Homes, hood Construction and Mungo Homes.
Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.