SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Smiles on faces and bulbs in the soil, both were planted Wednesday morning outside the soon-to-be Shreveport Aquarium.
Instead of breaking ground behind the historic Barnwell Garden and Arts Center, children were growing ground in several gardens.
"We've had so many people wanting to know when, and today we start that process," Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler said.
City leaders announced the aquarium will be opening in August.
It's been a project more than a year in the making between the city and Planet Aqua Group.
The founder of the latter spoke before a crowd of dozens of people about his goal for the aquarium.
"People leaving this facility with a newfound respect and understanding for the world that they share," Planet Aqua Founder John Whitehead said.
With the Ground Growing came a showing for city officials of the progress inside Barnwell, eventually turning it into an aquarium with 22 exhibits housing 3,000 animals.
The contractor over the project, Wieland, told KSLA News 12 the work also will be bringing in jobs, especially during the construction phase.
"It's right around 40-45 jobs," said Ryan Roberts, Wieland vice president and regional director.
"Construction-wise, we'll probably have a peak of about 30 to 40 during peak construction time, which will be more like in the springtime."
Shreveport Aquarium was an idea big enough to inspire song from the Westwood Elementary Leadership Team, whose members performed a song during the ceremony.
"Overly excited! I thought it was going to be open today! They could go in there and see it, but they cannot wait for this summer!" team director Kalinda Rogers said.
"We're a community school," Westwood Elementary principal Renee Ellis. "The community has done so much for Westwood Elementary, and we just always like to give back."
During the ceremony, city leaders said they're also looking to make the aquarium more environmentally friendly by seeking to make it Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified.
"A LEED building conserves natural resources, consumed less energy and water and reduces toxins, making it a healthier place to be," LEED Executive Director Shannon Stage said.
Want a job?
Although no official job listings have been posted yet for the aquarium, city leaders recommend any interested parties to continuously check the online Wieland job listings and the online job listings of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority.