By ANGIE CARNATHAN
The Starkville Pilot Club held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at McKee Park Saturday for the grand opening of its new music trail. The project has been in planning and development for three years, and Project Chair Ellen Boles said it was a proud day for both the Pilot Club and the city of Starkville.
“Music is important to all children, and we are proud to provide this to the community,” Boles said. “We’re so excited to see this project coming to fruition.”
Boles said the idea came to her after reading about a similar project in Florida.
“I am a retired music teacher, and in one of my music journals I read an article about a teacher in Florida that had installed playground musical instruments at her school,” Boles said. “At that time the Pilot Club was look for a new signature project, and we wanted something that would benefit the handicapped and those with brain disorders, so I thought this would be the perfect thing.”
Boles said club was thankful for receiving trail designs from Pete Melby’s Mississippi State University architecture students.
Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye said the project was a great representation of the time Pilot Club members give to their community.
“This is a great day for Starkville Parks and Recreation, because this is the sort of thing good communities do,” Rye said. “We’re very fortunate to have such an active Pilot Club here in Starkville. The dedication and passion they have makes for really successful projects.”
Rye said he believes the Pilot Club Music Trail will be something that Starkville children can enjoy for years to come.
“It’s a neat project because it interacts play with something beneficial that they need in their life, which is music,” Rye said.
The event included a performance on the playground instruments that are already installed, which include an alligator drum and marimbas, all of which are specifically accessible to those with disabilities.
“We have three instruments now, and we will have six more by the time it’s completed, so we will have nine total in the next couple of years,” Boles said. “The musical instruments can help in many different ways: it’s a social activity, it gets their bodies moving and it helps build on their creative abilities.”
Members of the Pilot Club also presented a puppet show called Brain Minders, using different animal puppets to teach children about keeping themselves safe by wearing seat belts while in cars and helmets while riding bikes.
“The puppet show we did today is something that Pilot International formulated,” Boles said. “We are available to bring the puppet show to schools, day care centers, any children’s programs that would like for us to come.”
A reception of cookies and lemonade followed the event, while members of the Starkville Anchor Club were on hand to paint faces for the children. The Anchor Club is a junior Pilot Club for high school girls. Members Megan Aucoim and Emily Gregory said they both enjoy being in the Anchor club and especially enjoy working with children.
The project was made possible in part by grants from the Pilot International Foundation and the Starkville Area Arts Council and a gift from the Junior Auxiliary Crown Club 2010-2011 with support of and collaboration with the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department, MSU Landscape Architecture and MSU Music Education Partnerships. For more information on the Pilot Club Music Trail, call Starkville Parks and Recreation at (662) 323-2294. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.