Excitement builds for landmark day in Arthur Ashe Boulevard renaming

Updated: Jun. 21, 2019 at 6:28 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s going to be a landmark day in Richmond on Saturday, as the Boulevard is renamed Arthur Ashe Boulevard in honor of the tennis legend, social activist, and Richmond native.

Many celebrations and events are already under way. The Arthur Ashe Boulevard Tennis Under the Lights tournament at Byrd Park kicked off Friday evening and crews spent the day setting up for the official unveiling ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Excited Richmonders were already admiring an Arthur Ashe photo exhibit outside honoring his legacy.

"It’s beautiful because it tells exactly what he was doing and what he was about,” said Dorothy Parrish, 79, who watched the entirety of Ashe’s career and advocacy in civil rights, AIDS research and for children.

“He fought a lot of battles to bring equality to everyone and I loved him for that,” Cynthia Harvey, who plans to attend the museum’s exhibit, said. “There are people who want positive change and we are headed in the right direction for that positive change.”

The exhibit features a virtual reality experience of Ashe’s 1968 U.S. Open win. Admission is free all day Saturday.

Visitors look at a photo exhibit in honor of Arthur Ashe.
Visitors look at a photo exhibit in honor of Arthur Ashe.(NBC12)

Some big names are expected at the unveiling, including renowned civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Arthur Ashe’s family.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., a huge community celebration will be held at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center, including music, food trucks, games, and of course all kinds of tennis activities and lessons for the whole family.

“We will have three tennis professionals who can give lessons if someone wants to start playing tennis,” organizer Shima Grover said.

No tennis racket? No problem. Donated rackets will be handed out to kids, as well as other giveaways.

A celebration will also be underway from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Battery Park.

Later in the evening at 8 p.m., you can catch a special concert at Dogwood Dell or the official Arthur Ashe after party at the Graduate Richmond.

There will be free parking at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Free shuttles will also be provided to and from the ceremony at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

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