The statue of Hiawatha being removed from Riverside park

Local News

La Crosse, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX)-In June, the mayor of La Crosse called for the removal of a city landmark, the Statue of Hiawatha in Riverside Park.

This was supposed to be the day the statue was removed.  First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler explains why it will stand for one more day. The $15,000 removal of the Hiawatha statue in La Crosse has begun. Last month, the parks and recreation board voted to remove the art at Mayor Kabat’s request.

“It kind of feels like a funeral down here to me with the statue being taken down. It’s been here for sixty years and Anthony Zimmerhakl was a fantastic artist, but at least it’s being saved.  Said Steve Kiedrowski, local artist.

The statue is being removed in a way that looks to minimize any potential damage. Hiawatha will no longer be stored on city property, but instead travel to a convenient location south of La Crosse to be on public display later this year.  An anonymous third party and the artist’s family will take over ownership with the exact spot announced soon.

While parks and rec director understands why some community members are disappointed with its removal, it is necessary because of the public nature of Riverside park.  “The individuals and communities that found the art offensive warranted city officials to take a look at does it belong in the park.” Said Jay Odegaard.

And while crews are chipping away at the concrete base, families say they’re also chipping away at their memories. Through the years this is what our families have done and when our children have children they bring them down here and now it’s gone. And this Indian is not hurting anything.  Some in the community blame politics for the removal. The removal of the statue was put on hold once construction crews discovered they needed some new equipment and the possibility of a different crane now parks and rec said the removal will continue Tuesday morning.

“It’s disappointing to have to kind of put things on hold, but we need to do the right thing. The last thing we want to do is have the statue swing in the wrong direction.” Said Odegaard.

The statue is being secured overnight and a new cutting torch and potentially stronger crane will be brought in. As for a replacement piece of art, the city said it’s holding off due to budget cuts.

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