At Brooklyn Center’s Centennial celebration in 2011, residents decided they wanted to leave a legacy for the next century.

They batted around ideas — paths, park benches, an embellished flagpole — before deciding they wanted to create a space that inspired community participation and celebrated the city’s diverse cultures.

This week, residents and city leaders will ceremoniously turn the first shovels of soil for the Centennial Civic and Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Centennial Park.

Volunteers have spent the past four years raising nearly $350,000 to pay for the amphitheater. Organizers anticipate that the sale of 500 personally inscribed pavers at $250 each will bring them close to the $500,000 mark, which is the estimated cost of the project. In the meantime, the city has agreed to lend the committee funds to cover any shortfall until enough money is raised.

“Brooklyn Center is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the metropolitan area. Sometimes we have a hard time recognizing that and incorporating that diversity into our community. We are hopeful we can build a more solid community and provide a venue — a stage on which that diversity can perform,” said Duane Orn, a retired doctor who chaired the amphitheater fundraising group.

Orn said residents, nonprofits, veterans’ groups and businesses have all contributed to the cause. “We have had donations as small as $5 and as large as $150,000,” Orn said. Luther Automotive is the largest donor, contributing $150,000.

The amphitheater will be a masonry structure with a farm motif, including a cupola that matches one on the Earle Brown Heritage Center. Blumentals/Architecture donated much of the design work for the project.

“We asked them to capture the feeling of Brooklyn Center and our area,” said Orn, explaining that the region’s agrarian roots are strong.

Orn said the amphitheater will complement the other amenities at Centennial Park: playing fields, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, walking trails and an archery range.

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