MARION — A re-dedication ceremony for Sharon’s Secret Garden at the Marion Palace Theatre will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 14.
Sharon’s Secret Garden was built in the summer of 2000 to honor the late Sharon Bender, who died from ovarian cancer in 1999. Bender was known in the Marion community as a well-respected first-grade teacher in the Marion City Schools and was connected to the Palace Theatre where she performed in a number of shows.
After Bender’s death, friends and family worked together to create a relaxing outdoor area to honor her memory at the Palace. The space included a shaded pergola with park benches, flowers and brick pavers engraved with tributes to Bender and others’ loved ones. The memorial garden became a popular location for performers to unwind and reflect during shows.
Due to construction of the Palace May Pavilion in 2008, Sharon’s Secret Garden was removed. The pergola and pavers were preserved and the re-construction was completed this spring at the new location on the north side of the theatre. Students enrolled in the Construction Technology program at Tri-Rivers as well as instructors Dave Woessner (floral), Jim Rittler (agricultural industrial power), Chuck Stone (carpentry) and Kerry Beckel (landscaping) were involved in the garden project and donated time and effort to reinstall the structure in preparation for the ceremony.
Several other Tri-Rivers staff members helped with the transportation and delivery of supplies and materials throughout the project.
The re-dedication will take place opening night of the summer musical “Annie” at 6:30 p.m. July 14. Patrons purchasing a $40 ticket to the musical are invited to attend the pre-show ceremony. Those in attendance will celebrate Bender’s life with a champagne toast, share memories and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Anyone who would like to pay tribute to Bender by purchasing a brick or honor someone special by placing their name on a brick should contact the Palace Theatre box office. Bricks may be purchased and engraved for $50 (4-by-8 inches) or $100 (8-by-8 inches) each.
Those interested in attaining tickets to the re-dedication ceremony may contact the Marion Palace Theatre box office at 740-383-2101. In addition to the pre-show ceremony, Patron ticket holders will enjoy premium seating during the show, recognition in the “Annie” program book and an invitation to the post-show dessert party.