20,000 origami cranes on display at Railroad Park - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

20,000 origami cranes on display at Railroad Park

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Melissa Turnage lost her son on September 11th twelve years ago.

"Every time I'm in New York and go to the museum at Ground Zero, I am struck by the origami cranes that people had sent from all over the world right after 9-11 as a symbol of peace and hope," says Turnage.

Legend has it, that if you fold 1,000 origami cranes and make a wish for peace, your wish comes true.

At Railroad Park, what started out as 1,000 cranes has grown to 20,000!

Turnage, a Birmingham native, wanted to take the symbol of peace and hope and incorporate into the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

"I wanted to make a difference in a more visible way," says Turnage. "Thinking about what happened here 50-years-ago, and the four little girls who lost their lives in senseless act of violence. I thought, maybe we can make a community project. We can fold these cranes. We'll teach children how to do it."

The origami cranes were folded by hundreds of volunteers, schools, churches and other organizations.

Many of them carry hand-written messages.

Turnage explains, "Some of the cranes are made with church bulletins. Some of them are made with lined paper from schools. Some (children) wrote what peace means to them."

She goes on to say, "It's just taken off. People from all over the community. In fact I have a friend in Tokyo who sent me 750. I have a lady in Texas who sent me about 100S so it's just been amazing and now we have over 20,000 and that's what we're hanging today."

This project took more than a year and a half to complete.

Margot Cooney, one of the coordinators, says this demonstrates what the work of many hands can accomplish.

"Birmingham has just so much potential and it's up to us to do something about it," says Cooney.

Beverly Strong became a 'strong' helping hand. She made more than 3,500 cranes herself!

How long did that take, you ask?

"It took, let's see, three to four minutes each. I could make 100 in a night. So 3,500 took me 35 nights!" says Strong.

Doug and Sandy Tilt stopped to help while taking a walk in Railroad Park

"We just walked down here and they were threading them and working on it, we asked if we could help and so, that's what we're doing," says Tilt.

For Turnage, her hope is for those who see these cranes blowing in the breeze
to remember what they represent.

"It's about doing this all together. Holding hands and moving forward," says Turnage.

At least 500 volunteers gave their time and effort to this project, to make these cranes.

The display will be up for the next five days.  After that, not really sure where the cranes will find a home.

Several people have stepped forward saying they would love to have them in their office/place of business, schools. 

Melissa Turnage says anyone interested can contact her at  goodnewsmelissa@gmail.com
or at 205-218-0829.

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