5 May 2013
OUR VIEW: Now seems like good time to say 'Thanks, Walt'
THE ISSUE: The many contributions made to our community by native son Walt Willey
OUR VIEW: Seems like a great time to just say 'Thanks, Walt'
Thank you Walt Willey.
We had to take a moment to say that. A thank-you to Walt seemed appropriate as we paged through The Times this week. On Wednesday we reported two important local stories and both involved the star from TV's "All My Children."
First, Willey is continuing a local tradition he started that brings other TV stars from the soap opera to the local stage. (Willey played Jackson Montgomery on the show.)
He has announced his fifth summer show will be "Deathtrap," produced through WilleyWorld Community Productions, which he formed with his longtime friend Kim "Howard" Johnson, of Ottawa.
"Deathtrap" is being co-presented with the newly-formed Illinois Valley Coalition on the Performing Arts, a nonprofit group.
In fact, this group is another example of the positive contributions Willey has helped bring to this area.
"IV-COPA works to support the performing arts in the Illinois Valley area with special attention to programs for our area's youth interested in the performing arts," Willey explained.
"Our board, ex-officio membership and committees are comprised of educators, fundraisers and professionals in the performing arts. We have already begun our work with local school districts and communities, developing in-school presentations and workshops."
Creative outlets, such as theater and the performing arts, are an important part of any community and we appreciate Willey's dedication and passion for building such programs locally.
The same day we provided details on the summer production, we also reported on the premiere of a 30-second TV commercial that will promote Ottawa and encourage tourists to "Pick us!"
The spot was created through a partnership with the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ottawa Visitors Center.
The commercial features Willey and local residents. (We proudly note one of the extras in the spot is our own Stephanie Szuda-Jaquins, multimedia editor at The Times. If you have not seen it yet, go to mywebtimes.com.)
The commercial will air on WGN-TV in the next few weeks into June. It will help promote the Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine and Jazz Festival and Lobster Fest and in July will advertise the city's annual Riverfest.
Locations featured in the production are Washington Square, the downtown area, the Illinois & Michigan Canal, Heritage Harbor and Monte's Riverside Inn.
"This is wonderful," said Mayor Bob Eschbach. "It was a great experience for us (who participated in the production) and a big step forward for promoting our city."
Willey clearly is a key element in the spot. He earned star status from his years on TV and has a face and name well known to many outside of the Ottawa area.
So his commitment to his town, our town, is noteworthy.
"It was very exciting to be asked to participate," Willey told The Times regarding the TV commercial. "I love this city," he said. "I always say what I am today is because of my years growing up in Ottawa. I hope it brings new visitors to town."
What a great tribute to this community. For those words alone, we say "Thank you."
And on behalf of this community, for all you have done and have planned to continue helping Ottawa and its neighbors, we say "Thank you, Walt Willey."