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updated: 1/31/2011 6:01 PM

Sculpture dedication to celebrate Heritage YMCA centennial

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Naperville's Century Walk Corporation will honor the Heritage YMCA's centennial Sunday with the dedication of a sculpture depicting children dancing to the 1978 hit "Y.M.C.A."

The sculpture and a proposed Century Plaza will be unveiled in a ceremony from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Fry Family YMCA, 2120 W. 95th St. The free event will include family activities from 1 to 2 p.m. followed by a formal dedication, recognition and unveiling ceremony from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

"Consider it a birthday present from Century Walk to the Y to commemorate their 100 years in the city," Century Walk Director Brand Bobosky said. "It's an attraction to call attention to the great work the Y has done and continues to do."

The sculpture by Colorado artist Jane DeDecker celebrates the YMCA's mission, organizers said. The 1,500-pound statue is 11 feet long, 3 feet wide and 7 feet high and features four children spelling out letters with their bodies.

The sculpture will be located in the yet-to-be-built Century Plaza, in front of the Fry Family YMCA. The plaza is expected to include benches, landscaping and a padded play area for children.

The Heritage YMCA, which serves Naperville, Aurora and Oswego, can trace its history to the construction of the Kroehler Family YMCA in downtown Naperville in 1910. That facility opened its doors in 1911.

"A few years ago, we got permission to do some work at the Kroehler Y but in the meantime we did the Veterans Valor (sculpture) right next to the Y," Bobosky said. "We didn't think there would be a lot of value to do another piece within 25 feet. So the logical thing seemed to be to move our plans to the headquarters of the Y at Fry."

To make the complete plaza a reality, however, it is now up to the Y to raise funds necessary for construction and an honorary committee has been set up to help it reach that goal.

"The actual project to build the plaza is about $30,000 but we hope to raise enough money not only to cover those costs but to also raise more to fund the various events planned for 2011 in celebration of the Y's service to Naperville," YMCA spokeswoman Dee Dee McDevitt said Friday.

In addition to Sunday's ceremony, McDevitt said a ribbon-cutting is planned for March 26 at the Kroehler YMCA marking the anniversary of the formal dedication in 1911, and a family picnic is likely to be planned at a yet to be determined date.

This is the 36th piece of public art dedicated by Century Walk since the group was formed in 1995 including sculptures, murals, mosaics and more.