Gillespie was born in Cheraw in 1917. "We felt that the 85th anniversary of his birth was the perfect time to unveil the statue, and we hope his admirers will be here to help us honor Dizzy," said Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram. The bronze statue depicts Gillespie playing his trademark bent horn. Commissioned by the town with the assistance of a grant from SC Parks Recreation and Tourism, the work is by internationally known artist Ed Dwight. The main ceremony and unveiling will begin at 5 PM at the Town Green on Market Street.
The park ribbon cutting will be at 4 PM on Huger Street. NEA and State Education Department grants enabled artist Bob Doster to work with Cheraw school children to create a modern sculpture and eclectic stainless steel benches commemorating the jazz king’s life. These have been installed along with a South Carolina Historic Marker at the old Gillespie home site. The historic marker notes Gillespie’s many contributions to music and service as a good will ambassador for the US State Department.
The Dick Goodwin Band rounds out events with A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie at the Theatre on the Green at 6:30 PM. Concert tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling the Cheraw Arts Commission at 843 537-8422. The band has just produced a new album featuring many Dizzy Gillespie favorites.
Memorial Committee Chairman Phil Powell said, "The town has long wanted to honor this native son, and we are delighted with the outcome. We are particularly pleased with the support we have received from Gillespie’s wife and family." Donations to complete the project and fund a scholarship endowment can be sent to The Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund, PO Box 219, Cheraw, SC 29520.