Kay’s Garden officially opens with Japanese style ribbon cutting

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo officially opened Kay’s Garden Thursday morning with a ribbon cutting, complete with dignitaries from across the Midwest.

Attending and speaking at the ceremony was Consul General Kenichi Okada from the Japanese Consulate in Chicago and James Kanki, Honorary Consul of Japan in Kansas City. The ribbon cutting was held in traditional Japanese style.

“Today we open a project that has been years in the making,” Topeka Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said.

“This idea started five years ago when Chief Kay McFarland threw the dice to begin a journey. This started as a backyard pond,” said Koji Morimoto, Japanese Garden Master and architect of the garden.

Also speaking at the event was Friends of the Zoo Board President Pat Colley and Trustees Elaine and Howard Schwartz.

The Topeka Zoo broke ground on Kay’s Garden in November 2018. KBS Contractors is the general contractor on the project.

The garden includes a large Koi pond, running streams, bridges and landscaping that provides serenity and breath-taking views. Kay’s Garden was built at a cost of $6,625,000, of which $4,400,000 was provided by the Kay E. McFarland Living Trust. The Friends of the Topeka Zoo raised the remaining $2.25 million to cover other expenses. KBS Contractors was the primary contractor for the project.

Kay’s Garden was a gift from former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland. McFarland’s dream was to leave a gift of a world class Japanese garden to the capitol city of the state she served. 

On September 19, 1977, Kay McFarland was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court by Governor Robert Bennett, becoming the first woman to hold that office. She became Chief Justice on September 1, 1995, upon the retirement of Chief Justice Richard Holmes. She was the first woman to hold that office. She served as Chief Justice until her retirement in 2009. 

For more information on Kay’s Garden or to book a summer event at the garden, go to http://topekazoo.org/kaysgarden/.

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