HistoryView the 2012 News Release
Virginia Legends Walk's purpose is to honor great Virginians, past and present, who have made significant contributions to our nation and the world.
The program began as an idea by Bobby Melatti of Beachevents, the city of Virginia Beach's special events contractor. Melatti secured a commitment to help from Brickell & Partners Public Relations, the communications agency for Beachevents.
The concept was presented to Jim Ricketts, director of Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor Development, who helped shape the program. Ricketts also arranged a presentation to the city's Resort Advisory Council (RAC), an independent organization charged with improvements in the resort area of the city.
RAC helped further sharpen the concept and provided unanimous endorsement of the program to City Council.
Former Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, current Mayor Will Sessoms, and former resort borough Councilmember Linwood Branch also fully endorsed the project through planning stages. City Council unanimously approved Virginia Legends Walk, allocating construction funding, with the commitment to introduce the project in July 1999.
Sprint PCS volunteered to be the corporate sponsor, providing $25,000 cash to carry the project through completion.
In its first year, Virginia Legends Walk received thousands of nominations for 101 qualified Virginian candidates. These nominations came from 26 states, four Canadian provinces and eight foreign countries.
At the July 19, 1999 dedication ceremony honoring the initial inductees, ambassadors for 13 of the 24 attended and addressed that gathering. These ambassadors included representatives for Arthur Ashe, Pearl Bailey, Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, Patrick Henry, Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, James Madison, George C. Marshall, Edgar Allan Poe, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Captain John Smith, and Woodrow Wilson.
Virginia Legends Walk also has an elementary school educational aspect. Sprint PCS sponsored "baseball-style" cards featuring each of the inaugural inductees, which were provided to every fourth or fifth grade child studying Virginia history in Hampton Roads and greater Richmond, and are still available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Legends Walk is an annual event. Nominations may be submitted by anyone. Future Virginia Legends Walk inductees will be people who are named on at least 50 percent of all ballots returned by the judges.