Years of wonderful memories have taken place at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center in Winter Park, but the building’s final event is giving locals a chance to relive them all.
Winter Park residents will say goodbye to the civic center at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. They also are invited to participate in a celebration of love at “We Still Do,” a wedding vow renewal ceremony and farewell celebration set for Saturday, July 14, at the center.
The city welcomes back anyone who celebrated their ceremony or reception at the center, but any couple is welcome to come renew their vows regardless of where they were married. That day of celebration is also open to the general public.
City Manager Randy Knight will be officiating the ceremony, and the Winter Park Public Library is collecting photos for a special slideshow to showcase your civic center celebrations from years past.
The celebration also will include music, children’s activities in a special Family Fun Zone, and food and drinks from the civic center’s devoted caterers.
It will be the final event held at the facility that has served the community for 32 years. The civic center is set for demolition toward the end of the year to make way for a new state-of-the-art library and event center.
“The civic center is a site that means a lot of different things to so many people,” Winter Park Director of Communications Clarissa Howard said. “What we did realize is that there were many events held there that were actually weddings or wedding receptions. We were talking with our city management and our assistant city manager and recommended the idea of exploring doing wedding vow renewals — to celebrate the history making and lifelong memories of the civic center.”
The venue is a special place for city information technology assistant director Sujay Sukhadia. It’s where he and his wife, Hiloni, were married Dec. 13, 2015. They will be among the many couples coming to the final event to renew their vows.
“The civic center holds a special place in our heart and holds memories that will remain with us for decades to come,” Sukhadia said. “I have been working with the city for over 10 years. I visited the civic center on so many occasions before our wedding. I had always wished to get married here. So in a way, the venue was decided before I met my wife. When my wife and I decided to get married, I brought her here to show her around the venue, and she fell in love with it. It was just how she had imagined.”
Event organizers also hope to leave a lasting impression in another way.
“This, hopefully, we anticipate to be the largest public wedding vow renewal ceremony in Winter Park and maybe Orlando and maybe the state,” Howard said.
Sukhadia said he knows the new facility is coming soon but said it’s also hard to say goodbye to the current building.
“We will miss this place for sure,” he said. “I am sure the new facility is going to (be) an improved venue, but lots of memories are attached with (the) existing building.”