City Parks & Rec Dept. loses valued employee to retirement

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By Toni Stauffer

Since 2004, Rebecca Harris has been a fixture at the Phenix City Parks & Recreation Department as the Special Events Coordinator, but as of Dec. 31, 2017, she has officially retired. Over the last 14 years, Harris has coordinated holiday events such as the Night of Lights and Breakfast with Santa during Christmas; Harris and her staff even decorated the city with wreaths they made by hand. She also wrote and produced plays for Christmas and the Fourth of July. But her favorite event has always been the Veterans Day Parade. 

“That’s one of the most important events we did, to me, because we have so many veterans in this area,” Harris said. “I was happy to have the job that I had, because we were able to help put focus on the Veterans Parade.”

Harris has more than 30 years of experience in booking bands. She was responsible for booking eight shows a season, acts like The Marshall Tucker Band, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Lettermen, Luke Bryan, Jake Owen and Randy Houser. She only had one unusual contract rider in all that time—a special request by Jake Owen for “little bitty” Coke bottles for his niece and nephew who had joined him on his tour. She also ordered Haribo gummy bears he likes, but it turned out that he already had too many on the bus from fans, so Harris gave them to crew members.

One of her favorite musicians that she booked was Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, because of his appreciation of the Riverwalk and the amphitheater. 

“The Phenix City amphitheater is such a beautiful and special place to me,” Harris said. “It’s always felt like home.” She became close friends with Farner and his wife and they still talk a lot.

Harris is also a musician. She has been singing in church and with bands since she was just three years old. Now she is part of a duet with her fiancé Ray Shaver called Rebecca & Ray and she plays percussion instruments. A date for the wedding hasn’t been set yet. 

“We’re still trying to decide in what area we want to live,” Harris said.

She thoroughly enjoyed working for the city. “Because of my job, I was able to work with a lot of civic organizations, churches and businesses where I found a lot of the friends I still have today,” Harris said. 

Brad Strickland is currently interim Special Events Coordinator and has applied for the position. Interviews were held Jan. 24.

And while Harris may have retired from the city, she will still be the host of her cable show “Faces and Places,” which airs Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. ET, Fridays at 1:30 p.m. and at various times Saturday on CTV Beam Channel 7. You can also watch episodes on YouTube.