The Fredonia Olympic Committee is mulling ideas about how to best honor Jenn Suhr’s Olympic achievement.
The group met in the Village Hall to toss ideas around with committee members and others present. Julie Essek, who heads the committee, said, “We have an opportunity to celebrate in a special way,” and encouraged people to share their ideas.
One idea was repeated from 2008 when a silver ball was placed atop the ceremonial pole erected in Barker common in 2008: to replace the silver ball will a gold ball.
Committee member Randy Anderson asked, “Can we do something that won’t negate the original accomplishment?” Several people in attendance discussed possibilities related to adding a gold ball in addition to a silver ball, or perhaps adding gold and silver flags to the pole beneath the American flag to represent the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London victories.
Gary Damico reminded the members anything done would have to be cleared by the Fredonia Village Board, and noted there were objections by some in 2008 to changing the character of the park with the original flag. Damico also explained the Historical Society would also have input into any decisions made.
Further, Essek said all ideas have to be cleared by Suhr’s agent as well, but the purpose of the meeting was to gather ideas before narrowing them down.
Essek said a second pole would cost more than $5,000 to erect, and felt it was out of the budget. She said she spoke with representatives of Titus Monuments about an addition to the current 24-inch by 12-inch non-polished monument in the park, which takes up most of the space it was allotted. She was told changes could be made to it to reflect the gold medal achievement for about $550. She asked about affixing a gold-colored medal to the monument, but was told its permanence could not be guaranteed against vandalism.
Village Mayor Stephen Keefe, who was not able to attend, sent his ideas along with Essek. One suggestion is to have a brass statue designed by local artist Dave Poulin, with funds to pay for a large statue gained from sale of miniatures of the ultimate statue. Several present voiced concerns over the cost of such an endeavor, which would likely take the artist an enormous amount of hours and labor and materials, making it a costly project.
Other ideas discussed included naming a track or road after Suhr and commemorative benches in the park, possibly with surrounding brick work. Anderson said, “I’d like to see a place that invites you to walk in and look around.”
An historical marker like the one found in front of the birth home of Lucille Ball in Lakewood or Howard Ehmke in Silver Creek. Fredonia Central School was discussed as a possible home, and several agreed its presence could be inspirational to students.
One idea seemed to have a lot of support: identical signs at each of the four main entrances to the village on Routes 60 and 20 which would commemorate the birthplace of Suhr and 2012 Olympic gold medal win.
Other non-permanent ideas to celebrate included a street jump and a parade, perhaps similar to the relay held in Fredonia in 2008 after the silver victory. Several of the homecoming ceremonial activities held in 2008 will be rebroadcast on Cable Access 5 on Time Warner Cable Fredonia starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
by: Shirley Pulawski
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