Celebration Park is a permanent, prominent remembrance - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Celebration Park is a permanent, prominent remembrance

Posted: Updated:
Photo courtesy of Romney History Archives. Romney 250th president Cindy Johnson holds the first brick installed in Celebration Park, Romney. Photo courtesy of Romney History Archives. Romney 250th president Cindy Johnson holds the first brick installed in Celebration Park, Romney.
Photo courtesy of Romney History Archives. The first section of the park, History Plaza, is not yet landscaped. A time capsule has been placed in its center. Photo courtesy of Romney History Archives. The first section of the park, History Plaza, is not yet landscaped. A time capsule has been placed in its center.

By MARLA PISCIOTTA
For The State Journal

There is a small park under construction next to  Town Hall in Romney that is a venue whereby engraved bricks not only are part of the construction, but they also are a means of remembering and honoring people, businesses and much more.

In 2011 the Romney 250th Celebration committee prepared a year-long celebration. While brainstorming during one planning meeting, committee president Cindy Johnson mentioned a park with engraved bricks.

The interest was spontaneous and members began sharing their ideas. The group decided on a three section garden, a History Plaza, a Serenity Garden and a Veterans Plaza, which has developed to what is in place today. Solid brick pavers lead the visitor from the front of the plaza through the three landscaped islands dividing all three plazas.

After the 250th committee completed its year-long task, a new entity, the Romney History Festival Committee, which operates under the City of Romney, was established in its stead.

The main function of this committee is to host events and raise funds to complete the park.  

Celebration Park is a 35-foot-wide strip of land owned by the city. City government resolved in August 2010 that the land be used for a park. The American, West Virginia and City of Romney flags all fly over History Plaza.

In the center, the committee buried a time capsule when the brick construction of that area was built. Inside the time capsule are photos, letters to and from New Romney, England, (the city's namesake), officials congratulating the committee on the park, a local newspaper and many other artifacts.

Dan Hileman, mayor of Romney, has a particular interest in the park since he also is vice president of the history committee.  

"This is a wonderful project. One of my goals is to finish the park before I leave office," Hileman said. "My point is that the park is an asset to the community — one that visitors and residents will enjoy forever."

Hileman said the nice thing about Celebration Park is its dynamics.

"The park will continue changing for many years," he said. "New trees, more bricks and different shrubs and flowers."

The second section of the park is Serenity Garden, which eventually will have a water feature in the center and plenty of seating.

Veterans Plaza is located at the rear of the park. A brick wall designed by artist Dennis Shoemaker of Romney features bronze seals representing the five branches of military service in the United States.

Just behind and towering over the wall will be crape myrtle trees. 

Engraved pavers have been purchased for Civil War, World War I and World War II soldiers.

"To me when I see the bricks, one for my father's service and one for my own, it makes a shiver go up and down my spine," Hileman said.

Hileman said the park would be enlarged in the future if necessary.

Bricks engraved with logos have been sold to businesses, area groups, in honor of anniversaries and birthdays and many others have been designed to be laid in Veterans Plaza. Bricks come in two sizes and two costs.

Originally the brick pavers were sold to finance the park project. Although there have been many bricks purchased, many more need to be purchased to fully fund the completion of the park.

In the meantime, the committee hosts events periodically to raise funds and will continue selling bricks indefinitely.

The committee hopes the completed, three-section base will be in place by June 6, when the annual Romney History Festival takes place in conjunction with its Confederate Memorial Day event.