MARION, S.C. (AP) — A park built as a memorial to South Carolina Sen. Clementa Pinckney is celebrating its grand opening Saturday.
It is beside the Marion County Museum, which has a memorial exhibit honoring Pinckney, a state senator from Ridgeland who was killed in 2015 in a racist massacr e at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston along with eight other Black worshippers.
Pinckney also was the pastor at Emanuel AME.
The park cost $3 million to build and is named Amazing Grace Park after the hymn President Barack Obama sang when he eulogized Pinckney at his funeral.
Saturday's grand opening will have food trucks, face painters, inflatables for children to play in and live entertainment.
Amazing Grace Par k Director Stephanie Rizzo said her goal is not just to oversee the day-to-day operations of the park but also collaborate with local and state leaders to keep Pinckney's spirit of public service and helping all people alive.
“I knew from the moment I learned of park plans years ago that this would be something special for both Marion County and the Pinckney family. We are looking forward, not only to next month or next year, but to building something grand, that will keep visitors coming back for years to come," said Rizzo, who spent the previous three years running the Historic Marion Revitalization Association.
State Sen. Kent Williams, D-Marion, helped bring the project together.
“We want to use this park to bring communities together and have a central location where people can congregate and enjoy the park,” said Williams, D-Marion. “We want it to be open and inviting for everyone to feel welcome."
Pinckney was a Democrat who served in the South Carolina House for four years and in the state Senate from 2001 to his death in 2015.