AURORA | The 7/20 Memorial Garden is about to enter a three week stretch that will see the organization’s efforts to create a permanent tribute for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting come to fruition.
Starting on July 2, Douwe Blumberg, the artists selected by the foundation, will start installation of his work “Ascentiate” at the Reflection Garden to celebrate the lives of those murdered in the shooting. Blumberg is set to be finished installing the artwork in time for it to be on display during the foundation’s fundraiser beer festival Reflection Garden on Tap on July 14, said Heather Dearman, vice chair of the foundation’s board.
For the past two years, the foundation has combined a 5K race and beer tasting as a way to raise money for the memorial. But this year, the event has moved from a morning run to an event that will include beer tastings from more than 13 breweries, food trucks, chalk art and live music.
“We want to make sure everyone knows this memorial is for everyone. This is for the community,” said Dearman, whose cousin Ashley Moser was paralyzed from a gunshot wound.
Heather Bailey, a member of the board whose daughter Kaylan Bailey was in the theater, said the beer festival and all the attached events are meant to help ensure the garden isn’t thought of as a place to mourn. Instead they want it to be the center of a celebration of life and the community that came together to support and help heal victims, families and first responders.
“A lot of people remember memorials as a sad place to go, and that’s not what we want our memorial to be. We want it to be the opposite,” Bailey said. “It’s a place that everybody can come and share memories and come and relax. We don’t want it to be a sad place at all.”
The beer festival will start a three-week stretch that will mark significant milestones for the foundation, the families of victims, first responders and the community. The following week after the festival will be the vigil and procession to mark the sixth anniversary of the shooting. And the week after that on July 27 the foundation will officially dedicate the artwork in the garden.
“I’m so excited. It’s hard to imagine my life outside of planning for this day. We’ve been working on it for so long,” said Theresa Hoover, the foundation board chair, whose son AJ Boik was one of the victims. “This is where we can turn the page and turn it into lending a hand to others that need it.”
As the installation is dedicated, it will mark the end of a long journey, the end of a chapter, Bailey said.
“The shooting happened, and then trial ended, and now the memorial is over, and now truly life begins new,” Bailey said. “My cause is coming to an end. This is going to be kind of a sad moment for me in different aspects of it. But it will also be very joyful to see other people’s expressions when they see the piece, and how (Blumberg) puts the cranes around the burm and how he’s placed them so perfectly. I’ll be very curious ab everyone’s reactions.”
While the dedication of “Ascentiate” will mark the end of years of efforts for those involved with the memorial, it won’t be the end of their work, Hoover said.
“We don’t want to stop just because we reached our goal. We want to continue on and continue to help others the way our community stood up and took care of us,” Hoover said. “I think we’ll figure out more after August or September. We’ll figure it out a little bit more and make a plan on where to focus our efforts.”
Reflection on Tap
1-4 p.m., Sat. July 14th in the Aurora Water Wise Garden. Entrance is free. Tickets to partake in the beer tasting at $25 for early bird pricing ending on June 30. For more information, visit 7-20memorial.org/2018-reflection-garden-on-tap-fundraiser/