Topeka Zoo holds Japanese-inspired ribbon cutting ceremony of Kay’s Garden

13 News at Six
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka Zoo highlighted Japanese culture at Thursday’s unveiling of Kay’s Garden.

They didn’t hold a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, instead it was rich in Japanese customs and featured music from Three Trails Taiko, a Japanese drum group.

The speakers also shared stories of the late Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice, Kay McFarland, a female trailblazer in the state’s criminal justice system.

Trustee, Elaine Schwartz, of the Kay E. McFarland Living Trust said, “The chief took many paths which led to great things, just as the paths in this garden all lead to greater sights and places of reflection.”

“She wanted to have a place of beauty, serenity and peace for the people of Topeka and now her vision has been realized today,” said General Kenichi Okada from the Japanese Consulate in Chicago.

Kay established a living trust to help fund her dream of a Japanese garden in the heart of the Capital City.

Topeka Zoo Director, Brendan Wiley, said bringing it to life was an amazing journey.

“From a small little informal plan of just a koi pond with a bridge over it, to this amazing world class Japanese garden,” he continued saying, “Some of the features that you’ll see in this space go back more than a thousand years and they tell stories, stories that still need to be heard today.”

Foreign dignitaries and city officials praised the project for putting Topeka on the map.

General Okada said, “In such a large country like the United States, we only have a handful of Japanese gardens like this.”

Mayor Michelle De La Isla echoed that sentiment saying, “This is a jewel that’s very few in our country and it’s here in our community.”

Friends of the Zoo Board President, Pat Colley added, “This garden takes us to another level. This is something in our community that makes us a destination.”

Wiley agreed calling the garden a unique asset to the zoo. He said, “You can go to a lot of places and see a giraffe or elephants or a lot of the other animals that we have here, but you’ve got to go a long way to see a garden like this.”

The project cost $6.6 million. $4.4 million of that was donated through McFarland’s trust.

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