Memorial Marathon Marvel

At 8 a.m., there were about a dozen people in the Pavilion to unfurl the giant flag, put out the donation boxes, and sing the national anthem as Carol Williams began to play. Cloudy skies and warm temperatures nursed the crowd along, and when the noon hour came the terraces and seating area were awash with people curious to hear the great organ and learn more about the cause for which Carol was working so hard. This photo from Dwight Gordon was taken about 10 a.m.


Volunteers from the Challenged Athletes Project joined with about a dozen more from the Spreckels Organ Society to greet the crowds. In the Pavilion, Tony LoBue offered a special art project, and representatives from the Veterans Museum, SD Diplomacy Council, and American Guild of Organists had information and activities. Kids, dogs, passing tourists, and awestruck music lovers heard Gershwin and Sousa medleys, “Fanfare for the Common Man,” the Widor Toccata, Tournemire’s “Te Deum,” “Swinging Bach,” more medleys from Phantom of the Opera and The Sound of Music, the recently exhumed 1915 Exposition March composed for San Diego by Fred Stansfield, and the recently written work of Carol Williams herself including “Twilight,” the “Venus Toccata,” and the “Centennial Fanfare.”

On the stage, State Senator Marty Block led a host of dignitaries that included Larry Baza, Chairman of the San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture, Balboa Park Ranger Kim Duclo, Kathleen Winchester of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Bruce Warren of the Balboa Theatre Foundation, Wayne Louth of World Memorial (who furnished the beautiful big flag on the east colonnade), Stacey Zeitlin of the Humane Society, and others brought on by hosts Robert Santos of 10 News and Luis Cruz of U-T TV. A midday appearance by the House of Scotland Band of pipers was a big hit.

Nico Marcolongo and others representing Operation Rebound were onhand to cheer throughout the day as the audience gave generously. By the afternoon, more than $4,000 had been raised in cash donations. Final numbers have yet to come in, but it appears that the $20,000 goal has been reached. Of course there’s still time to donate, here.

At about 4 p.m. the cloudy skies finally gave way to sunshine, warming the last moments of this spring day. As darkness began to gather, the Pavilion lights blinked on to encourage Carol’s last 45 minutes. Mezzo soprano Martha Jane Weaver and dramatic reader Walter Ritter of Write Out Loud were on stage to lend poignant meaning to this Memorial Day Weekend occasion. Finally at 8:15 Carol finished the last toccata, surrounded by well-wishers from the volunteer team. After 12 hours and fifteen minutes, the marvelous musical marathon had come to a successful conclusion.

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