By: Jen Russon
Time is running out for the public art installation built by members of the community and Burning Man artist, David Best.
The Temple of Time, built in honor of those killed and injured in last year’s school shooting, opened to the public on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy and so far thousands of people — from residents and tourists, to the Governor — have paid their respects there. Visitors write on the walls, and leave behind mementos and gut wrenching messages of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
The Temple of Time was erected by a 24-person crew and almost 1,000 members from the community. In just two weeks, they built a temple with floors, shrine, pendants, ornate walls and benches inside a structure standing over thirty feet.
Soon, the Coral Springs Fire Department and police will assist in a controlled burn of the Balinese-style temple that’s different from Best’s similar works because it has remained intact for so long. Most of the temples Best creates are set ablaze within two weeks.
Although it will be open to the public, Lynne Martzall, media relations coordinator said the city is in the process of selecting members of the community – who assisted with the build and are connected to the artist – to participate in the burn. She confirmed both the Dworet and Hixon families will help set the temple ablaze.
Mitch and Annika Dworet, both of Coral Springs, lost their 17-year-old son Nick in last year’s shooting; their younger son, Alex, was injured in the gun violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Debra Hixon and her son, Corey will also participate in the ceremonial burn. Hixon, a teacher with Broward County Public Schools, is the widow of Chris Hixon, who was a coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and among the 17 killed.
Other participants in the burn include Michael DeAngelo and Jessica Schmidt, both of ScentsAbility. Schmidt is the founder and president of the organization, which helps young adults with disabilities. Because they were so impactful in helping to build The Temple of Time, DeAngelo and Schmidt will also be instrumental in burning it down.
Martzall added the city expects more survivors of the Parkland shooting to confirm their participation in coming weeks.
The burning of the Temple of Time brings to an end the first of a five part, public art series, called “Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: The Power of Art”. It was made possible by a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and partnership with the City of Parkland and Coral Springs Museum of Art.
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky and Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook will make opening remarks before the ceremonial burning, where heavy attendance is anticipated.
After it is set on fire at dusk on Sunday, May 19, at 7:00 p.m., it will all be gone. Best has made it known this is the most important part of his temple art. He explained that in past work with parents, students and first-responders, the building process, resulting temple, and catharsis from reducing it to soot and ember help rebuild hope.
It’s not too late to visit Temple of Time. Open from dawn to dusk every day, it will close two hours early, at 5 p.m., on the day of the ceremonial burn.
The temple is located at the former city hall site on West Sample Road. To ensure the safety of those in attendance, Sample will be closed in both east and west bound directions from Coral Hills Drive to University Drive from approximately 5-10 p.m.
Parking is available in the new city hall parking garage. People with respiratory problems should avoid the event and remain indoors. Pets are prohibited during normal visiting hours, and on the day of the ceremonial burn.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.