Spark!Fishers Debuts New Veterans Hall to Honor & Remember Local Vets
Photography Provided by Ron Wise & City of Fishers
At this year’s second-annual Spark Fishers event in the heart of downtown Fishers, residents will be reminded in several ways that they have more than a few true heroes living in their midst.
In keeping with the City of Fishers’ recent push to honor and assist military veterans and active duty members, Spark!Fishers this year will feature a multitude of events allowing locals to recognize and show their appreciation for local vets, active military and their families.
“We wanted to be intentional this year about celebrating all the veterans that live in Fishers as part of the bigger patriotic city initiative that we have,” says Sarah Sandquist, Fishers Director of Parks and Recreation. “There are several patriotic events that go on throughout the year including Spark!Fishers, and Spark is the big event within a whole week of patriotic events coming up.”
During the two-day Spark!Fishers event on June 28 and 29, Sandquist says the Fishers City Hall Auditorium will be transformed into Veterans Hall — an exhibition space and art gallery with pieces either created by veterans or in honor of those who have served. The space will also feature pre-recorded video interviews that Parks and Recreation staff conducted earlier this year with veterans allowing them the chance to share their stories with the public.
Attendees will also be able to write letters to veterans or family and friends currently serving, courtesy of a letter-writing station in Veterans Hall for which the Parks Department is providing stationary and postage.
The Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with the Fishers Arts Council and Nickel Plate Arts to bring Veterans Hall to life.
“If veterans have memorabilia, medals, letters or uniforms, anything they would be willing to showcase in Veterans Hall, we’re asking that they bring those in for the community to see — from different time periods and different, neat things that the community would be interested in seeing,” Sandquist says. “City Hall is air-conditioned, so it will be sort of a lounge feel. We’re inviting veterans and the rest of the community to come in and honor our veterans that live here.”
Those watching and participating in the Spark!Fishers 5K walk/run on June 29 will also have the chance to recognize veterans. The event staff plans to set up a special registration station for veterans, who will receive a special identifying bib so spectators can recognize them while they’re participating in the 5K.
Leading up to the Spark Fishers weekend, a free concert featuring the Jazz Ambassadors, the United States Army Field Band, is held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 in the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, as a family-friendly preview to the weekend’s festivities.
George Stavropoulos, a Fishers-based veteran who served as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam in 1967, says Fishers’ recent push to honor veterans is important for all residents — not least the younger generation who might not be familiar with the details of past military conflicts and the sacrifices of so many U.S. men and women.
“Military history and the history of service within the country should never be forgotten, and it’s not being taught as much anymore,” Stavropoulos says. “The commitment of the City of Fishers to veterans in general, and Vietnam veterans specifically, is all the more important because of that. Mayor Fadness and his staff are very supportive of Vietnam vets and all veterans.”
Stavropoulos received four Purple Hearts and the Silver Star (the latter being the third-highest decoration for valor in U.S. Armed Forces combat) after several serious shrapnel wounds during his service. He subsequently became a police officer in California before relocating to Fishers where he’s resided in Britton Falls since 2009. On March 29, he shared his story as a guest speaker at a National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremony at Fishers City Hall.
“The treatment I got from the people in attendance at the event in March was amazing,” Stavropoulos says. “I’ll never forget it.”
Sandquist is hopeful the military-centered events at Spark!Fishers will inspire locals to learn more about veterans generally, including those living right here in the city.
“We’re excited about Spark!Fishers and with all the events coming up I think it will further encourage Fishers to be a patriotic city,” she says.
For more info on Spark!Fishers, including sponsor and volunteer details and a live entertainment schedule, visit sparkfishers.com.
Visit playfishers.com/fishershonors to learn about upcoming events and programs for local veterans and active military members.