The 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative celebration will be held for the very first time at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Monday, January 20, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This ceremony, under the auspices of the Town of Ridgefield, is open to the public at no charge and will include musical performances, readings and remarks by selected speakers. This year marks the 18th anniversary of Ridgefield’s Martin Luther King Day ceremonies and the eleventh year that this celebration incorporates a presentation of the annual Spirit of Dr. King Ridgefield Community Service Award. Pictured are Mark Robinson, ceremony organizer and former member of the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, and Rev. PJ Leopold, last year’s award recipient and Executive Director of ARC, with Rudy Marconi, First Selectman for the town of Ridgefield. For more information, email Mark.Robinson@sralliance.com. (contributed photo)
For the very first time, the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative celebration will be held at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Monday, January 20, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., under the auspices of the Town of Ridgefield. Everyone is invited to attend this event at no charge and enjoy musical performances, readings and remarks by selected speakers.
This year marks the 18th anniversary of Ridgefield’s Martin Luther King Day ceremonies and the eleventh year that the celebration incorporates the presentation of the annual Spirit of Dr. King Ridgefield Community Service Award, presented to a member of the town who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service and selflessness reflecting the finest traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King. The award honors the memory of Dr. King and celebrates how his spirit lives on in the good works of Ridgefielders today.
This year’s ceremony will acknowledge the work and dedication of Anita Donofrio. Although Anita has always shied away from the spotlight, she has been a generous and tireless supporter of many Ridgefield community programs and initiatives, including the Library, The Ridgefield Playhouse and Founders Hall, where she serves on the Board of Directors. Anita’s love of animals led her to become a full-time volunteer for the Jane Goodall Institute and the principal benefactor of the ROAR Animal Shelter. In the wake of last year’s Sandy Hook school shootings, Anita re-dedicated herself to become a passionate personal lobbyist for gun legislation reform on both the local and national levels.
With the generous collaboration of Executive Director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, Allison Stockel, the Martin Luther King Day celebration is moving to that cultural hub and will include multiple musical performances. “This is an absolutely wonderful way to make the King ceremony bigger, better and more inclusive. And it would not have been possible without Allison and the Playhouse,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Started in 1997 as one of several community activities and initiatives organized and sponsored by ROUND (Ridgefielders Organized for Understanding and Diversity), the MLK celebration has become an enduring and highly regarded new tradition in Ridgefield. The purpose is to ensure that the spirit with which Dr. King lived and the struggles for which he died are remembered and live on in the hearts and minds of our community. When Rudy Marconi took office as First Selectman in 1999, he became Ridgefield’s first elected official to formally participate and has joined Mark Robinson as a co-organizer of the event ever since.
“The town looks forward to the celebration of the King Holiday. The King Holiday serves as a focal point for establishing and maintaining community service involving millions of Americans throughout the year to address critical social problems of this nation and to help improve the quality of life for humankind,” said Mark Robinson, ceremony organizer and former member of the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission.
The Serendipity Chorale with Music Director Gigi Van Dyke and Deborah Katchko-Gray and the TSI (Temple Shearith Israel) singers will perform during the ceremony. Other groups invited for this year are The Ridgefield Chorale, the teens from Ridgefield’s A Better Chance program and Kimberly Wilson. Remarks from First Selectman Rudy Marconi, celebration organizer Mark Robinson and a member of the Ridgefield Clergy Association will also be part of the ceremony.
The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not-for-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main St., Ridgefield, CT; 203-438-5795; ridgefieldplayhouse.org.