An outdoor amphitheater comes to life on Island Park, August opening celebration planned

The community wanted a public amphitheater and come Monday, Aug. 5, it will have one.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Aug. 5, an opening celebration will introduce the Island Park Arts Pavilion to the public, featuring a short program, ribbon-cutting ceremony, musical performances, and the Cruisin’ Chef Food Truck. An acoustic set from Jim McKeith is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and a concert from the Central Michigan Area Concert Band is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

The Island Park Arts Pavilion is a steel structure with three sound walls to help project music. The structure also doubles as a gathering space for family reunions and other events.

Rather than regularly schedule programming for the amphitheater, the Arts Pavilion will be open for use to the public.

"We don’t have a venue like this in the community, where a neighborhood band or local talent can come and host a concert for the community," says Chris Bundy, director of Parks & Public Spaces for the city.

"In previous master plan public input sessions, a lot of people requested an outdoor amphitheater. It’s important to listen and, when possible, to make it happen."

The catalyst for making it happen was Taylor Idema. The then-Mt. Pleasant High School freshman pitched the idea at the 2016 United Way's Pitch-Er event, winning $5,000 in seed money. She worked with the city every step along the way, eventually raising more than $200,000 in fundraising efforts to ensure its being built.

Bundy gives a lot of credit to Idema, who not only helped raise the funds for the Arts Pavilion, but also helped design it, pick the location, and plan the opening ceremony. It is the end result of Idema's Girl Scout Gold Award Project.

"I hope with the news of this project that more young people will feel comfortable sharing their own ideas for the community," Bundy says.

"This shows that one person really can make a difference. I can’t emphasize that enough."

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