VIDEO: Local Group Pushing for Jackson Park Band Shell Restoration
A local group wants to see the Jackson Park Band Shell restored for Emancipation Day.
Emancipation Day celebrates the signing of the Slavery Abolition Action of Upper Canada on August 28, 1833.
Canada became the final destination for many American slaves who escaped and took the Underground Railroad to freedom — for decades — people in Windsor celebrated Emancipation Day in Jackson Park.
The 60-year-old band shell is tucked behind Windsor Stadium off McDougall St.; it was rebuilt in 1959 after fire destroyed it two years earlier.
Now it sits unused and covered in graffiti and both Bradley Wade Jones and James Morgan want to see it returned to its former glory.
Morgan is a member of the Emancipation Day Committee member.
He tells CTV Windsor it's hard not to reminisce when he stands outside the landmark.
"You couldn't wait to come here and just see the talent show, the people, the performers, everybody, it was just packed," he says. "This was it, the emancipation for the black people; you had everybody from all over."
Jones is the President of the Emancipation Day Committee of Windsor.
He tells CTV Windsor a lot of important people graced the band-shell stage.
"This stage has hosted people like Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Junior and many, many, more, Diana Ross," he added.
According to the city, the property is used by a local cricket club and for storage.
Not the ideal use, according to Jones.
"If you look around now it seems to be a storage area, if not a dumping ground. Hopefully this stage restored at some point," he added.
Jackson Park is currently undergoing building replacements and parking lot reconstruction, but Parks and Recreation Executive Director Jan Wilson says they have no plans for the band-shell.
"The master plan does indicate the band shell is a feature of the park and there is definitely potential to refurbish it and use it, repurposing for small cultural events, so that certainly is an opportunity and options for the future," she says.
Both Morgan and Jones are hopeful the city sees the value in restoring the historic site.
Emancipation Day celebrations kicked off at the Fogolar Furlan Club Friday night, and will continue Saturday at Lanspeary Park.
— with files from CTV Windsor's Alana Hadadean