City to honor Walker's legacy

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Dedication service planned for late mayor’s family at Founder’s Day celebration

By Marty Finley

The man who envisioned a celebration recognizing America’s independence and Elizabethtown’s creation will be honored this week for the love he showed the city during his life.

Elizabethtown will host a dedication service for Mayor Tim Walker during its second Founders’ Day Celebration July 4 at Freeman Lake Park. The dedication service is scheduled to start around 8:30 p.m.

Walker, who was serving his first term as mayor after being elected to city council in 1997, died June 14 after suffering a massive heart attack.

Elizabethtown events coordinator Sarah Vaughn said the service will include presentation to Walker’s family and a moment of silence for the man who created and named the event.

“Founders’ Day is just one of his many accomplishments,” Vaughn said.

The service is appropriate, she said, because of Walker’s passion for Founders’ Day and his influence on the celebration.

“They’ll always know it’s his event, which, in turn, makes it their event,” she said of his family.

Walker led the city’s expansion into more community-oriented festivals as it took control of the Heartland Festival and Cruisin’ the Heartland from the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce while maintaining the annual summer concert and attracting other events, such as the Official Kentucky State Championship Old-Time Fiddler’s Contest.

Councilman Ron Thomas said Walker likely would be uncomfortable with the recognition because of his modest nature, but considering the circumstances surrounding his abrupt death and his principal role in founding the celebration, it is worth doing.

“He was very meek and humble. I’m sure he would be a little embarrassed,” Thomas said. “But I think whatever we do will certainly be an honor to him and would be very fitting and appropriate.”

Activities start at 7:30 a.m. Thursday with a 5k/10k Heroes Run sponsored by USA Cares inside the park. All proceeds from the event will benefit military families. Advanced registration is $20 and $25 the day of the event.

The run is followed by canoe races at 2 p.m. hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Registration for the races is $20 through today and $25 after the deadline passes. A life jacket is required to participate and canoes are available for use to those who do not have one, according to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Competitors also can tap into their creative streak and design their own homemade rafts.

Founders’ Day officially starts at 5 p.m. with a kids’ fun run, a mini water park, a pie-eating contest hosted by Shoney’s and a concert from the 100th Army Band. The band plays again after the dedication service for Walker.

Outside of the tribute to the late mayor, Vaughn said the most anticipated addition this year is a freedom flag presentation, featuring an American flag that is 32 feet wide and 20 feet tall with the capability of holding an entire choir. The flag was a donation to the city from Severns Valley Baptist Church and will erupt with music in a colorful and unique display of Elizabethtown’s history, Vaughn said.

The night wraps up with a freedom flag light show and fireworks. First Federal Savings Bank has signed on as title sponsor for the evening and admission is free. Vaughn said the only charge guests could incur is food or beverages from assigned vendors.

Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and coolers for further comfort.

Vaughn anticipates between 6,000 and 7,000 people will attend this year.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Registration for USA Cares Heroes Run
To register for the USA Cares Heroes Run, log on to www.active.com/running/elizabethtown-ky/usa-cares-heroes-run-2013 or call (270) 352-5444. To register for the canoe races, call (270) 351-2220. For  information about Founders’ Day, contact events coordinator Sarah Vaughn at (270) 765-6121.