The construction of exhibits will soon be under way at the new Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham children’s museum on East Washington Street.
On Friday, a celebration in the parking lot beside the building helped to ‘blast off’ the endeavor.
The children of Fairview Heights Elementary School choir sang “Possibilities” as directed by Melanie Cole.
“To say we are excited is an understatement,” said Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin. “Thank you all for being with us on this monumental day as our community comes together in celebration of the beginning of construction for Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham.”
Discovery Place CEO and President John Mackay was present and addressed the large audience.
“I am thrilled to be here today to kick off the construction of Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham,” said Mackay. “There couldn’t be more meaningful work for our organization to be engaged in and we are honored to have been welcomed here.”
Mackay said it is because of the collaborative efforts of the Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community Foundation through the Foundation For the Carolinas, in partnership with local municipalities, that they celebrated on Friday.
“And if it were not for one person’s tenacity and vision of what could be in this community — that of Brian Collier, senior vice president of Community Programs & Civic Leadership — we would not be here today,” said Mackay, who also said that Collier was the one who initially had the idea to locate a children’s museum in the Piedmont region. “I can guarantee this will be a unique museum and we’ve taken great pains to make sure that’s the case.”
Russell Bennett and Neal Cadieu, co-chairs of the Capitol Campaign, spoke to the audience as well.
“We cannot thank all of you enough — parents, educators, elected officials and museum contributors — for bringing us to today,” said Bennett.
Cadieu reported that the “community” phase of the funding campaign has begun. Having raised over $12 million for the initial set-up, the new funding goal is $14 million.
“I’m sure the folks of the Sandhills will be generous,” said Cadieu. “We invite you all to make an investment in our community’s future by helping to meet the campaign objectives for the facility, exhibitions and endowment.”
Cadieu issued an invitation to a special guest.
“Now let’s get this party started. I think that a very special guest is with us today — Can Can, who makes her home at Discovery Place Kids. Can Can, are you here somewhere?”
Can Can was brought out by Discovery Place KIDS staff, and escorted to the stage. The mascot is green, purple and blue, and somewhat shy. With the help of Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham VIPs like Kenneth Robinette, Tom Lawrence of the Leon Levine Foundation and Collier, a ‘blast off potion’ was mixed on stage, which demonstrated how different liquids affect the pH of water. A clear flask of water turned green, then blue, then purple and red before children were chosen from the audience to help pour the last of the liquids, which turned the liquid in the flask orange and began to fizz and spew out of the top.
The children of L.J. Bell Elementary School choir performed “Child of Tomorrow,” lead by director Don Greene.
Afterwards, Liberty Place across the street received guests for refreshments and a model of the upcoming museum was on display, with drawn images of exhibits and floor plans as well. It was revealed that a real firetruck would be displayed inside the museum for children to play on.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.