Memphis Parks CEO says Tom Lee Park is ‘Ready for its close-up’

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 11:03 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2023 at 6:25 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s been years in the making. A Memphis construction project that drew fierce criticism from the get-go is now finished. In less than two weeks, you can tour the all-new Tom Lee Park for yourself. And as one group gets ready to debut a gorgeous new park, another group faces a serious question about its future.

A grand opening day celebration is planned for the $62 million redesigned Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis.

”We’re going to open with an all-ages celebration and it’s free to everyone,” Carol Coletta, CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership, told Action News 5.

MRPP is the non-profit in charge of the park. More than two months after Memphis In May events wrapped up, Coletta said Tom Lee Park is ready for its close-up.

”And it begins with a fun parade down the new Carlisle Cutbank Bluff,” said Coletta, “led by Lucky 7 Brass Band and when we get to the bottom, we’ll cut the ribbon and make our way to the AutoZone fountain and turn the water on. We’ll have an interfaith blessing by the Church Health Center under the Sunset Canopy and a sacred water ceremony.”

Earlier this month, MRPP sent Memphis In May a bill for $1.4 million in damage after the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest wrapped up in the park. That figure far surpasses previous bills for damage done to the park during MIM festivities.

On August 14, Memphis In May spokesperson Randy Blevins told Action News 5, “We have submitted a claim with our insurance carrier and will have a statement at the appropriate time.”

That same week, Memphis In May President Jim Holt sent an email to BBQ teams that said, “Considering the final park design, and the extraordinary, punitive restoration fee, Memphis in May is exploring venue options other than Tom Lee Park for the future.”

The public will be welcomed into Tom Lee Park with open arms on Saturday, September 2 starting at 11:00 a.m.

Whether Memphis In May events still have a home at Memphis’ premiere park on the Mississippi River is uncertain.

”I don’t know,” said Coletta, “We haven’t had any discussions with Memphis In May about that. So, we’re standing by.”

We’ll learn more about the future of Memphis In May on Friday, August 25 at 6:00 a.m. The city’s legacy festival has a major announcement to make about a new partnership.

Get all the details from Action News 5′s Andrew Douglas and Arianna Poindexter on Action News 5 bright and early Friday morning.

For more information about the opening day festivities at Tom Lee Park, click here.

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