Tom Lee Park canopy dedicated to Tyre Nichols

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The massive 20,000 square foot canopy that is being built in the middle of Tom Lee Park has now been dedicated to Tyre Nichols.

For months, the canopy was to be named the Hyde Civic Canopy.

The Hyde Foundation out of Memphis funded the canopy project, but after hearing the news of Tyre Nichols, leaders felt the renaming was appropriate.

“It just felt like the right thing to do,” said foundation Chair and CEO Barbara Hyde. “Rather than name this for us or somebody else, we could give it a name the community could embrace.”

The new name is “Sunset Canopy,” named in honor of one of Nichols’s passions, taking pictures of sunsets at Shelby Farms Park and Tom Lee Park.

Nichols’s parents, Rodney and RowVaughn Wells were present at Friday’s dedication.

“(RowVaughn) has been such an inspiration to all of us in a time of such grief,” Hyde Foundation Founder Pitt Hyde said. “This just seems like a great thing to be able to do, and we feel like it’s a real privilege to be able to honor (Tyre) in this manner.”

Together, the Wells and Hyde families signed the first roof beam that was later put into place on top of the structure.

Tyre’s mother, RowVaugh wrote “Mommy miss you so much!”

“I know my son is smiling down,” RowVaughn said during the dedication. “It’s an honor to have this dedication in his memory.”

The Wells just returned from Washington D.C., where they were recognized by President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address.

Coming back to Memphis, the family felt this moment was even more special.

“He would have loved this,” Rodney said. “There’s nothing he liked more than watching the sunset on the Mississippi. This is another historic day. We’ve had quite a few in the past few days, but for our family, I think this is the best one.”

Chair of the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) Tyree Daniels said at the ceremony “This is what Memphis is all about, pulling together in times of crisis but also taking with us the social ills of our community and making it into positive things that can be positive efforts for change and also the recovery of the community.”

MRPP oversees the $61 million revamp of Tom Lee Park, and Daniels told us once Sunset Canopy is complete that there will be a commemorative plaque and language that tells Nichols’s story.

“I’m going to miss (Tyre) so much,” his mother said. “Ty was just... He was just a beautiful soul. Thank you all for being here and for supporting our family.”

Nichols passed one month ago today, dying from injuries he sustained during a traffic stop gone wrong on January 7th.

The 5 former Memphis Police officers who are charged with his murder are to appear before a judge this coming Friday.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.