Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We need you… we really, really need you!

(Originally published in The Forum March 31, 2010)

by: Chad Quinn

Perhaps that headline may come across as a little desperate, but it’s true, we really do need you – the Tamarac Historical Society is in need of what you have. Time? We’ll take it. Photographs? Those are great too. Odds and ends, old memorabilia, original documents, diaries – everything is important to us and at this stage in our development, we’ll take just about anything as we continue to build our collection – uh, actually that’s your collection; the City of Tamarac’s collection.

The Tamarac Historical Society is comprised of volunteers from throughout the community, but even though we have some amazing individuals who give tirelessly and unselfishly of their time – for the greater good of their City – it isn’t enough. We need more. We need you. We need your help. If you’ve been looking for a way to give back to your community, a way to share your skills, or for a chance to learn new ones, you’re perfect for us. We have a need for everything from clerical help to research. We meet regularly, but our volunteers also come in at their leisure to go through old scrap books, organize the items we’ve already been given, and some of our volunteers even do work from home.

People are the key to passing on our history. Not just the people who founded the City, developed the neighborhoods, or those who played a role in its politics… but the people who are, and will, help us gather those stories, fill in the details, and write the chapters of the proverbial book that will tell Tamarac’s tale. Like many of our neighbors, such as Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, and Delray, some day we hope to have an actual book… but that’s a long way off in the future at this point. The original photographs and documents we need to write a definitive history of our City are still missing.

The stated mission of Tamarac’s Historical Society is to research, collect, preserve and exhibit the history of Tamarac with goals of enlightening the community about our heritage and passing on an enduring legacy for future generations. Sounds relatively simple right? We’re only forty-seven years old… it isn’t like we have to go back centuries. But, this journey is proving to be a little more difficult than we may have anticipated. So far we have not uncovered the items we were hoping for… those afore mentioned originals. Sure, we’ve gotten some great stuff such as a few amazing scrapbooks, original sales brochures, some family photographs and the like, but we really need a LOT more. We need photos of the people who shaped this City, shaping the City… council meetings, ground breakings, parades, and such. Do you have those? Does your neighbor? Do you know a relative of one of our founding fathers, or perhaps one of the influential neighborhood activity directors from the early years?

We may only be forty-seven years old, but we are a City that was founded as an active retirement community… well, you do the math – unfortunately many of those early pioneers are no longer with us. In many cases we lack the generations of families passing on their own histories that help build the history of other cities. We have friends and neighbors… but what happens to the items left behind? Help us find out.

Speaking of people, the Historical Society’s next exhibit will focus on influential people who helped to shape the future of our City in the beginning – this exhibit will complement our first exhibit “The Behring Years” in that it will be about people from the same period of time – the first decade or so of Tamarac’s history. Be on the lookout for the new display in May at City Hall.

And of course, when I speak of influential people I need to mention those who stepped forward early in the formation of the Historical Society, pioneers in their own way. Barbara Tarnove, our first president, Ann Salomon, our first secretary/treasurer, and Phyllis Bonfoey, Rita Botwinick, Sharron Callahan, Bunny Cohen, Ruth Cohen, Joel Davidson, Carol Fortin, Real Fortin, May Goldberg, Claudia Krysiak, Miriam Marin, Rea Mills, Gertrude Mishkin, Lillian Pabon, Amy Redman, Helen Sivelle, Miriel Stein, Mary Ann Ziccinolfi, and Ralph Zicchinolfi. Unfortunately several of these people have already had to leave the Society for one reason or another – some have moved away, others have had to focus on other things in their lives, but they will always be a part of our history… and we’d like you to add your name to that list.

To volunteer, or to donate, please call (954) 597-3523 or email, and don’t forget to come out to the Tamarac Community Garage Sale on Saturday, April 10, 2010… you’ll find us in our usual spot, at the northeast corner, from 7:30 am – 12:30 pm raising funds for the Historical Society with our bake sale – this is also a great time to share your stories, and to hear ours!

Pictured above: Back Row (Left to Right): Real Fortin, Lillian Pabon, Ann Salomon, Helen Sivelle, Rea Mills, Chad Quinn (Founder), Barbara Tarnove, Joel Davidson, Mary Ann Ziccinolfi, Ralph Zicchinolfi, Carol Fortin; Seated (Left to Right): Bunny Cohen, Miriel Stein, Sharron Callahan, Gertrude Mishkin, Ruth Cohen; Not Pictured: Phyllis Bonfoey, Rita Botwinick, May Goldberg, Claudia Krysiak, Miriam Marin, Amy Redman.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

History has many ties; or How Tamarac is connected to Michael Jackson.

(Originally published in The Forum March 3, 2010)

by: Chad Quinn

You may not realize this, but Tamarac is forever tied to a legendary pop icon by way of an unassuming Colorado woman. Jane DeDecker, the artist who created two of Tamarac’s newest public art sculptures, Dawn and Dusk, is a highly sought after artist who was commissioned by the late Michael Jackson on several occasions to create artwork for his Neverland Ranch in California.

It’s an interesting story… sort of our own six degrees of separation, and it’s stories like these that make up our history. Some of those stories are more interesting, more juicy, or more salacious, than others (and over the past several months I’ve heard a couple, but those will have to wait until another column, or venue) for now, I’d like to tell the story of how Jane DeDecker and her sculptures, not necessarily in that order, came to Tamarac.

You may have previously read about the unveiling of Dawn and Dusk in the Forum, or in the Tam-A-Gram, the City of Tamarac’s official quarterly publication – how these two amazing new sculptures, located in between the Tamarac Community Center and Tamarac Branch of the Broward County Public Library, to paraphrase Ms. DeDecker, represent the community rising to greet the day (Dawn) and then nestling together in repose to put the sun to bed (Dusk).

The sculptures are part of Tamarac’s Public Art Program which is paid for by the Public Art Fund which was established by the City Commission in 2005 with the passage of the Public Art Ordinance (the ordinance requires that 1% of the construction value of new projects or improvements be set aside for public art).

In May of 2008 the Tamarac Public Art Committee put a call out to artist for the two areas overlooking the pond in between the Community Center and Library. The Committee narrowed down the 130 entries to 5 finalists and then decided upon Dawn and Dusk which they recommended to the City Commission (on March 11, 2009). The Commission unanimously approved the Committee’s recommendation and installation of the sculptures took place over a two-day period in October and was oversaw by Ms. DeDecker’s brother, David. Unfortunately, neither Ms. DeDecker, nor her brother, were available to return for the November unveiling but, they were able to return earlier this month (on February 11, 2009) for the dedication of the newest public art installation, “Under the Shadow of a Big Tree”, at Tephford Park.

After the dedication of this latest art piece, Ms. DeDecker participated in a discussion about her artwork – everything from the conceptualizing, design, creation, molding, and installation of new commissions. It was this trip that truly solidified Ms. DeDecker’s tie to our community – the shared experience and the filling in of the details in Dawn and Dusk’s story, and it was here that she recalled her work for Michael Jackson.

It was also during this discussion that Ms. DeDecker discussed the artwork she has created for other communities across the country – an interesting juxtaposition against the types of binds that have most recently tied cities across the country together, mainly revenue shortfalls and cutbacks. Despite the trying times we find ourselves in, Dawn and Dusk will be here to comfort our community for years to come, to greet us in the morning, and tuck us in at night. Challenging times will come and go, but art and the intentions it represents, can have a positive and lasting effect.

Jane DeDecker, and by extension Michael Jackson, are now part of Tamarac’s story.

What role do you play in our City? You are the key to preserving Tamarac’s history – it’s as easy as donating an old family photo or document, or volunteering your time. If you have something to share, contact the Tamarac Historical Society at, or (954) 597-3523.

Photo Captions:

Top Photo: Dawn overlooking the pond in-between the Tamarac Community Center and the Tamarac Branch of the Broward County Library on Commercial Boulevard.

Bottom Photo: Renowned sculptor Jane DeDecker discussed her art at the Tamarac Recreation Center on February 11, 2009.