I-35W Bridge Anniversary

By Ivy Chang | September 28, 2010

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At 11 a.m. on August 1, more than 400 people gathered at the Basilica of St. Mary for an interfaith service that began with four Buddhist monks’ chants followed by a Native American drum circle and prayers from Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Christian leaders to remember victims of the I-35W bridge collapse.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke about the bond between Minnesota citizens and the healing that will take years. Other political officials attending the service included Minnesota’s U.S. senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman, Rep. Keith Ellison, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, and political challenger Al Franken.

At 4:30, entertainment reflecting last year’s tragedy began with singing groups and dance groups on a stage set up at Gold Medal Park along West River Road.

The procession begins

After the entertainment, about 500 people commemorated the first anniversary by marching in a processing beginning at Gold Medal Park and ending at the Stone Arch Bridge facing the new replacement bridge.

Fire trucks, ambulances and police cars led the procession followed by the Minneapolis Police Pipe Band, politicians, last year’s first responders, medical personnel, bridge workers, and interested citizens.

At 6:05 p.m. everyone bowed in silence. Police inspector Mike Martin read the names of each victim; a dove was released after each name was read.

Victims’ families boarded a river boat and, escorted by Sheriff’s deputies, scattered flowers and wreaths into the Mississippi River. An eagle, not part of the program, circled above the crowd during the ceremony.

A flag unfurled and paintings unveiled

A construction crew unfurled the American flag facing the Stone Arch Bridge during the moment of silence. All construction work on the new bridge stopped from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Other activities during the day included unveiling a wall mural at a south Minneapolis arts building that was created by 50 young artists who survived the bridge collapse. The artists were children on the school bus that was pushed to the railing on the collapsed bridge. Teenagers painted a second mural that was unveiled in the evening, dedicated to one of the victims, at the building where the victim worked.

Another arts performance took place at the Guthrie Theater, next to Gold Medal Park in the afternoon.

Officials hope that the morning service and afternoon procession will help heal wounds from last year’s tragedy.