By Debby Woodin
Four stops along a 3.7-mile route through Joplin’s tornado zone will be capped today with a 5:41 p.m. moment of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of Joplin’s historic storm loss.
While the Day of Unity encompasses a number of events, the city-sponsored Walk of Unity will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Wal-Mart parking lot at 17th Street and Range Line Road. Walkers representing Duquesne will start at 2 p.m. at 20th Street and Duquesne Road and will join the main walk at Wal-Mart, one of the businesses that have been rebuilt since being destroyed by the May 22 tornado that took 161 lives. It is recorded as the nation’s deadliest storm in six decades.
“The Day of Unity is simply that — a day to come together as we are — and recognize the historic year that we’ve been through together,” said Mark Rohr, Joplin city manager, in a written statement.
Carpooling is encouraged among those who plan to join the walk at the start. Walkers are invited to join in at any point along the route and may leave the walk at any point, organizers said.
At 3:15 p.m. at 22nd Street and Indiana Avenue, walkers will stop for a steeple raising at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The ceremony there will be conducted in recognition of the 28 churches destroyed by the storm and the seven that have been rebuilt.
At 3:40 p.m., the walkers will stop at the baseball field at Joplin High School for a groundbreaking ceremony in observance of the rebuilding of schools.
At 4:14 p.m. at the former site of Irving Elementary School, 26th Street and Wall Avenue, walkers will stop for children’s activities. Events for children will be held there from 2 to 5 p.m. for anyone who wishes to attend.
There will be a brief stop at about 4:45 p.m. at 26th Street and Bird Avenue for a ribbon-cutting at Kraft Insurance Services by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce in honor of the 550 businesses affected by the tornado.
A ceremony is planned for 5 p.m. at the walk’s destination, Cunningham Park.
The last of the 161 trees dedicated as a memorial to those who died as a result of the tornado will be planted before the moment of silence.
About one-fourth of those trees were provided by a donation from Longaberger Co., of Newark, Ohio, and company chief Tami Longaberger will visit Joplin for the park ceremony.
After the ceremony, there will be festivities at the park. Free food will be served, and entertainment is planned.
Shuttle rides will be offered starting at about 6:30 p.m. to return people to their vehicles at Wal-Mart. Participants who joined along the route can be dropped off at points along the route.
CITY STREETS along the Walk of Unity route, including 20th Street, 26th Street and Indiana Avenue, will be partly closed off at noon today until the walkers pass those areas.