Palmetto Bay museum marks Memorial Day with tours, parade

Deering Estate opened its doors for art and history tours, a military parade, musical performances and food from local vendors to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

The purpose of art displayed this spring at the historic site and museum in Palmetto Bay is to show the tension in life, art and history, Melissa Diaz, the museum curator, explained while showing an abstract sculpture called “Earth Arise, Sky Descend.”

Diaz, who led the Contemporary Art Tour, also told guests that to preserve the natural land and historic artifacts that date back to the early 1900s, every décor, landscape and sculpture added to the property was tethered in a way that there would be no damage if removed.

“Everything needs to be able to be undone,” she said. “Nothing added is permanent.”

For example, Diaz showed how giant pictures inside the Stone House were held up by a truss and wire rather than being bolted to the wall. Even the small elevator in the hallway, outside the library of the Stone House, has remained substantially the same. Diaz said only the walls that enclose it were remodeled so the original structure of the house was unaltered.

One guest on the tour was Dora Olsen, a Deering Estate member, who has visited the estate with her family since the 1970s. She shared some of her memories from past visits, like the way tables used to be set up in the ballroom for the cabaret. She told Diaz that she remembers riding on the elevator before it was renovated.

“I’ve been on it with my husband, back before it looked pretty,” said Olsen.

She also said the features of the Stone House are more masculine than the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, in Coconut Grove.

“So gentlemen’s club,” Olsen said as she tapped on the exterior decorations of the door as the tour came to an end.

The day included a “Parade of Flags” to commemorate Memorial Day. A member of each branch of the military held up a flag, while they all marched in unison behind the drill commander.

One person honored was Don Pybas, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1975. He says he served as a torpedoman and that one of his submarines was able to stay under water for up to 72 days.

Pybas is a part of American Legion Post 133 and the Village of Palmetto Bay Veterans Park Advisory Committee. His informational booth at the Memorial Day celebration displayed plans for a veterans park to be built at 16400 S. Dixie Highway that would stretch about three acres. The plan includes water structures and murals to honor Gold Star Families and all branches of military.

To bring the parade to a close, 11-year-old Samantha Zaitman sang the National Anthem. This was not her first time being invited to perform. She will also sing at two different Fourth of July celebrations.

“I love to sing soul,” said Samantha. “My favorites are Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.”

Celeste is pursuing a bachelor of mass communication in broadcasting at FIU. Her area of interest is writing for broadcast, and has a special interest in feature stories.
She is from Vancouver, Washington and earned an associate degree from Lone Star College in the Woodlands, Texas. She also communicates with those in the Deaf community through the use of American Sign Language and welcomes meeting those from all walks of life.