Branson’s Star Walk off to patriotic start

In a memorial set up to honor those who have contributed significantly to what Branson has become, it seems fitting that the first honorees on the Branson Star Walk (Walk) were America’s Armed Forces. The first five commemorative squares on the Walk were dedicated in a special ceremony held prior to the start of Branson’s Annual Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

Each of the squares honored one of the five military branches of service, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley said, “In a city where Veterans and their families are so central to our core values, it is fitting that we have this permanent memorial honoring America’s military services in the center of our historic downtown district.”

The Walk is a project sponsored by the Historic Downtown Branson Business Owners Association (HDBBO) and supported by the City of Branson under an agreement approved by Branson’s Board of Aldermen. The agreement provided that the first five squares had to honor each branch of the U.S. Military and be placed on the four corners of the intersection of Commercial and Main Streets in the heart of Branson’s historic downtown district. The squares for all other honorees will be placed south of the military squares on Commercial Street.

According to Terry Jones, who, along with his wife Jean, owns Branson Granite & Marble, each of the five military squares is 33 inches by 33 inches by four inches thick and is Black Galaxy Granite imported from India to match the color requirements established by HDBBO. Branson Granite & Marble imported the blank granite squares, engraved, painted each with a detailed colored insignia of one of the military branches and, in cooperation with the city of Branson, installed them. Jones pointed out that the long intricate process was completed in the rain the night of Nov. 10 just hours before the dedication.

In making the HDBBO presentation to the board of aldermen for support Bonnie Johnson, at the time manager of the Classey Flea in historic downtown Branson and a member of the HDBBO Beautification committee, described the Branson Star Walk as “A point of interest to explore that will pull visitors into the heart of the historic district.” She explained that the Walk would accomplish that by honoring those people and events that have contributed to the history, heritage, and entertainment that has made Branson what it is today and America’s military.

Except for the military squares, each square must honor a person connected with Branson’s shows, business or history. Future honorees will be selected by a seven person committee using the criteria set forth in the agreement.

The selection criteria for the Show Category requires that the person “must have lived or worked in the Greater Branson Area for no less than 5 consecutive years or 5 out of 10 years.” It is further required that the person has distinguished themselves in the entertainment profession and “by their presence in this area, contributed to the charm, worldwide prominence and name recognition of Branson, Missouri.”

The Historical category will include persons historically linked to the development of Branson. This includes early settlers and prominent “civic personalities with significant historical achievement who have distinguished themselves in service to the community.”