October 22, 2011 11:59:00 PM
The exuberant beat of an "alligator" drum and plink of marimbas will ring out at Starkville's McKee Park on Lynn Lane Saturday at the grand opening of the first phase of the Pilot Club Music Trail at 10 a.m.
Playground versions of the first three of nine planned instruments designed for children have been installed. Ready for use are a soprano marimba, tenor marimba and alligator drum.
Additional xylophone-type instruments, a rain wheel, additional drums and a pre-school music station will be added in the future.
"The instruments are specifically accessible to children with disabilities, and may be enjoyed by all children," stated Pilot Club Project Coordinator Ellen Boles.
Pilot Club President Peggy Norman said, "We've been working on this project for the last two years, with the city of Starkville, Starkville Parks and Recreation and the university, trying to get everything organized for the best placement and how the trail should run."
Norman encouraged families to bring their children to the park Saturday morning to try out the instruments.
Support and collaboration with the city, Parks and Recreation, Mississippi State University Landscape Architecture and MSU Music Education Partnerships have aided the project. As did funding from the Pilot International Foundation, Starkville Area Arts Council, the 2010-11 Junior Auxiliary Crown Club and other contributors.
The trail is open to the general public on a daily basis. The club encourages school groups, Scouts and similar groups to visit it. Suggestions for organized use are available, and club members can be enlisted to help.
"We invite everyone to the grand opening and ribbon cutting, and we want to encourage every child to use the trail," said Norman, adding that other civic organizations may want to join in enhancing the park, "so it's a great place for kids to go."
The Pilot Club of Starkville was first organized in 1947, chartered by Pilot Club of Columbus. Its major past projects have included development of a health center and a mini-bus program providing transportation for seniors and disabled citizens.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.