Block Party superstructure will be built at Monument Sq.

Block Party superstructure will be built at Monument Sq.

WOONSOCKET - What's about one-third the size of the one of the world's most famous monuments, and made of nylon, steel, water, Plexiglas, wood and mirrors?

It's the main art piece for Woonsocket's 125th Anniversary Block Party, of course, and if the description has you curious, just wait.

The highly anticipated centerpiece of the Aug. 29 celebration is in the final planning stages and organizers say they aren't ready to reveal its name just yet. That is, unless you can guess it.

An engineering firm out of Boston is slated to begin construction on the piece sometime next week and will spend four days in Woonsocket building what's being described as a "superstructure" representing the city's past, present and future.

The object will be 50 feet wide and decorated in three-dimensional paint. It will be virtually unavoidable in the weeks leading up to the big celebration and travelers will have to go through it to get from Social Street to City Hall and beyond.

"This is serious," said Albert Beauparlant, co-chair of the event. "I thought: What can capture the essence of who we are and yet, in some ways, be bigger than the city itself?"

The structure, he hinted, will be a smaller version of a storied monument that's marked a historical rallying point some 3,500 or so miles away. And Beauparlant hopes the Woonsocket version will serve to rally a city beaten down in recent years by political and economic strife.

"The art will be representative of what we're going through as a people - what the community is feeling at this 125th celebration, simultaneously feeling the effects over the years of neglect from Providence."

Beauparlant said the idea for the piece came to him during a late-night stroll down Main Street.

"Streets can talk when you have insight," said Beauparlant. "Main Street spoke to me."

His vision was actually too technical for several of the staging companies he contacted, but after speaking to five different Boston contractors, Beauparlant has found one prepared to move forward. Once the base is complete, the city will be calling on local artists and contractors to finish the job. Electricians, plumbers and carpenters will be needed for the work, which Beauparlant estimated will take around 15 days.

"It's the people of Woonsocket who are going to be building this," said Beauparlant. "It's a monument of the people and for the people."

City historians have also been called to service for creation of the piece. On the "inside," which is a 38-foot vault, Beauparlant said one wall will display 125 years of the history of the "common man" Woonsocket. On the other, a "Wall of Fame" will show the city's most notable figures.

Woonsocket's version of the mysterious famed monument, which organizers hint, was built in the early 1800s, will resemble the original from the outside, but will also include special effects created through lighting and technical engineering. Located at Monument Square, the structure will be situated by the main stage at the party, and will display special effects throughout the event.

The lead artist for the piece, and the Block Party itself, is Ron Deziel, famed for his murals along buildings throughout the city. In addition to diagrams marking the details of planned complex feats of engineering, Deziel has created renderings, but those, organizers say, will not be revealed until the structure itself is complete.

The event, and the art piece used to promote and enhance it, are funded entirely by donations from local businesses and private residents.

CVS Caremark is the main sponsor of the Block Party and the company has made a significant contribution for the structure.

Beauparlant said he is still in the process of securing some of the money to bring his massive vision to life, but completion is not "a bridge too far."

Beauparlant was one of the masterminds behind the city's successful 100-year birthday celebration back in 1988, a party that drew in more than 20,000 people. This party is expected to be even larger, with 12 stages, vendors, car and military shows, and involvement of representatives from nearly every aspect of city life, from businesses to churches.

The art, he hopes, will match the grandness of the event itself. The art piece is expected to be the largest monument ever erected in the city.

Asked if the item will be taller than the 30-foot-high Civil War monument currently at the square, the coy Beauparlant replied "Perhaps twice as high," with a laugh. He also hinted that many city residents have cultural links to the place where the original monument resides.

A plaque in front of the structure will explain its significance.

"This piece of art is meant to unify us as a city, so we can move through this dilemma that we're going through," Beauparlant said.

"It means 10 different things, but the most important is unity, and for this city to never, ever give up on itself, because we will persevere."