NASHVILLE, TN — With families, young couples, vendors, performers and park advocates enjoying perfect weather, Advance Financial 24/7 donated $300,000 to help renovate Centennial Park.
“This donation … will go along way toward meeting our goals,” Paula Van Slyke, board chair of the Conservancy for the Parthenon in Centennial Park, said, thank- ing Tina and Michael Hodges, co-owners of Advance Financial 24/7.
Founded in 1996, the Hodges’ took control of the small lending agency in 1998, shaping its brand and expanding its reach in Middle Tennessee. They celebrated the company’s 20th anniversary Oct. 29 with a Party in the Park.
“We both grew up with this park,” Tina Hodges said. “It’s very special in our hearts. Both of our moms brought us here to play with the ducks and feed them and riding paddle boats and visiting the Parthenon.”
Michael Hodges added, “Our wedding reception was held in the Parthenon. We’re native Nashvillians. This is a chance to give back. We’re grateful to do that.”
Nashville’s diverse community enjoyed live bands, puppet shows, food and drink vendors, and huge inflatable playground equipment.
“It’s like the United Nations here,” Conservancy board member John Darwin of Nashville said. “The diversity of the people in this park is incredible. If you want to know what’s going on in Nashville, in terms of the new people here, this is where you see it.”
Positive comments from people enjoying themselves were fleeting as parents abandoned interviews in pursuit of youngsters.
The music was exceptional, as expected.
“The thing about Nashville; everybody is a great singer,” said Tige Rodgers, one of two afternoon drive-time FM radio announcers at 101.1 The Beat. Referring to a band playing while listening to the performance, Rodgers said, “They’d probably get an arena” venue in another city.
Van Slyke said the Hodges’ gift will benefit generations of Nashvillians.
“It’s going to involve the reengineering of the great lawn, so that when events like this happen, the lawn can withstand it,” Van Slyke said. “We’re going to double the amount of walking trails and improve the area around Lake Watauga. It’s going to be just incredible.”
“We started our capital campaign last month,” she said.
In September, Mayor Megan Barry announced renovations would cost $22 million. Barry’s capital plan has $5 million for park renovations. Some $10 million is to be approved by Metro’s council. Nearly $7 million is sought from private donors.
Conservancy Treasurer Neil Krugman said “It’s a substantial project. Our neighbors across the park, HCA, have committed $5 million. We have other significant contributions that have either been committed or have been contributed. This is a wonderful and significant donation by Advance Financial.”