The ceremonial groundbreaking for the long-awaited Idyllwild Community Center was Saturday morning, May 26. Here (from left) Dave and Loie Butterfield, generous benefactors to the community; Robert Priefer, a long-time advocate for a community center; Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington, an important supporter of the project; and Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center, which planned and oversees the work.
Photo by Steven King

Village square — Idypark — is dedicated

May 26, a Saturday, began Memorial Day weekend, which we observe and is when we honor those who died serving our country. But this year, it seemed that Idyllwild, not the site of battles or military installations or cemeteries, was being honored.

While many residents are born and raised in Idyllwild — “hillbillies” — two former East Coast residents, who have moved to the Hill, have graciously and generously shared with this community. Their gifts were the focus of both public events Saturday.

First, at 10:30 a.m., the official ceremonial groundbreaking for the Idyllwild Community Center occurred. The concept and desire for a community center pre-dates the arrival of the Butterfields — Loie and Dave — but they have guided it to this point where fruition is no longer a dream, but merely the clock ticking.

During the ceremony, in which Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington attended and spoke, Janice Lyle, president of the board for the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center, announced another gift from the Butterfields.

On Friday, the day before the groundbreaking, they made another donation, which enables the planned outdoor amphitheater to be built during Phase 1. While that had been an original intention, the available funding was only sufficient to complete grading of the project site, and construction of the roadway and parking areas.

The main building is scheduled for the next phase and the SJMCC board already has $1.6 million available for its construction.

Now, the amphitheater will be completed and summer concerts will have a permanent home conducive to entertainment.

The American Legion Post 800 Honor Guard and hundreds of spectators salute the American flag as it was raised over the dedication of Idypark Saturday, May 26. Idypark, dedicated to veterans and first responders, is the idea and creation of Loie and Dave Butterfield. Young and older sequoia trees line Idypark’s perimeter.
Photo by Steven King

After the groundbreaking, most of the attendees sauntered a few hundred feet east for the dedication of Idypark. A 50-foot flag pole has replaced Jo’An’s restaurant.

Again, the Butterfields purchased the site in the fall. With the help and assistance of Shane Stewart, the building was razed, sidewalks and more stone walls installed, and three young sequoias, a gift of the Pine Cove Water District, were transplanted.

Pastor Wally Boer (right) of the Cross Road 243 Church welcomes World War II veteran Glen Wall to the Idyllwild Park dedication. Wall will be 101 one week after the May 26 ceremony. Photo by Steven King

On Saturday, Idypark was dedicated in honor of veterans and first responders. Pastor Wally Boer, of the Cross Road 243 Church, led the ceremony. American Legion Post 800’s Honor Guard presented the flag and fired the volleys. Buzz Holmes led the Idyllwild Master Chorale and Local Color in several patriotic songs.

During the ICC ceremony, long-time Idyllwild resident Robert Priefer described the long and slow path from the early 1980s until Saturday morning.

“The turning point in history for the town was 2006. … there was controversy over recreation … and who was going to do recreation,” Priefer said during his narration. “Then Dave Butterfield walked into my office … I told him, ‘What we really needed was a community center.’ … and a month later he returned and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

With the 5 acres for the community center, Loie and Dave have donated more than $5.5 million to the residents of the Hill. The funds for an amphitheater are just the latest gift.

“This is a staggering number,” Lyle said. “No other community is as lucky as us to have their help and encouragement.”

She then introduced Washington, who also is proud and happy that the county’s mountain communities share their beauty in his district. But he also brought a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors. All five signed it honoring the Butterfields for their generosity to the community.

The proclamation recognizes not only the gift of the community center, but the creation of Idypark.

The supervisors recognized, “… the significance of these tremendous gifts to the residents and visitors of Idyllwild and gratefully thank Loie and Dave Butterfield for enhancing the quality of life for everyone who resides in or visits this special mountain community.”

And a huge applause broke out from the dozens attending the ceremony.

Earlier, Dave said that he and Loie were very blessed to do what they’ve accomplished. “And we only had one philosophy. The community should develop on this site whatever the community can fund and wants.”

But they felt disappointment that the amphitheater could not be funded. So, with more generosity and love, they donated the funds for its completion as part of the first phase of the work.