ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Helping a legacy live on: that's the goal of family and friends of Winnie and Harold Watts of Elmira.
The pair loved Brand Park, which sits behind their Maple Ave home. Now, a committee is working to help make sure the park remains vibrant and beautiful for future generations.
"We just hope it's a hit! You know it takes a community to keep something like this going!" says Anthony Popkin.
Popkin is the grandson of Winnie and Harold Watts. Efforts are underway to maintain his grandmother's love of Brand Park. Winnie, known affectionately by some as the "Mayor of Maple Ave," sadly passed away last August at 80 years old.
"She was an amazing woman. She was a nurturer -- it didn't matter if she knew you her whole life or if she just met you. She would do anything for you. And community was important to her; making sure that the community had somewhere to go and to enjoy each other," Popkin recalls.
After Winnie's passing, those who loved and shared her mission to preserve Brand Park established a trust fund through the Community Foundation of Elmira and the Finger Lakes. The goal now is to raise $100,000, any they're well on their way.
"We have a $25,000 anonymous donation and basically if we reach that $100,000 mark, we'll be able to basically continuing paying for concerts, funding events, having maintenance done for the park for the foreseeable future, basically off the interest," says Popkin, who also is Co-Chair of the Brand Park Beautification Committee.
Committee members have already sent out hundreds of mailers to the business community, with details about the project, volunteer opportunities, and donation information, all to try and get more people involved and on board.
Popkin recalls fond memories with his Grandmother spent at Brand Park.
"So when I had my first son -- her first great-grandchild, we'd go down every weekend. So for 6 years he got to know his great-grandmother, which was probably the best thing he could have in his life, you know -- because he's got that foundation now of knowing who she was and the type of work she did," Popkin says.
There will be a special dedication ceremony on March 5th where the bandstand at Brand Park will formally be named after Harold and Winnie Watts. That will also mark the official kickoff for the fundraising for the trust fund. Those presentations will take place from 5 - 7 p.m. at the New Beginnings Methodist Church on Miller Street.
Additional information about Brand Park can be found here: https://brandpark.org/