Naperville sculpture dedication marks Navy's anniversary
Naperville's sculpture of a World War I soldier raising a triumphant fist as he stands in a field now has someone to return the gesture.
The "Spirit of the American Doughboy," restored in 2003, officially will be joined this weekend by a 1920s-era sailor called "Spirit of the American Navy," that stands tipping his hat back across Burlington Square Park near the downtown Metra station.
The new sculpture will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Sunday during a ceremony thanking veterans and donors for the $77,000 they raised for the pedestal, landscaping, sidewalks and lighting.
"It's the 238th birthday of the American Navy that day," Naperville veteran Terry Jelinek said. "It makes it a little more important."
The Naperville Municipal Band is scheduled to perform patriotic tunes at the ceremony. Organizers had contacted a band from Naval Station Great Lakes, but Jelinek said the partial government shutdown prevented that group from appearing.
The Navy and Army sculptures displayed in the park at 307 N. Ellsworth St. both are works of the same artist, E.M. Viquesney.
While the Doughboy has been a part of Naperville history for roughly 90 years, its Navy counterpart came on the scene much more recently. Just this May, Century Walk, a nonprofit public art group in Naperville, began asking the city, park district and donors for contributions toward installing "Spirit of the American Navy" in time for the Oct. 13 anniversary.
A crowdfunding website for municipal projects, citizinvestor.com, allowed Century Walk to accept credit card donations as it built funds to get the new piece in place in time, Century Walk Chairman Brand Bobosky said.
The sculpture is one of only eight of its kind, and it had been privately owned in Michigan before Century Walk bought it to display in Burlington Square Park.
A plaque noting the piece as Century Walk's 44th piece of public art since 1996 will be dedicated Sunday at a new plaza on the east side of the park near Ellsworth Street, about a block away from the Doughboy to the west.
"It covers the whole span of the park that way," Jelinek said.
Naperville's newest tribute to those who have served will be in place about a month before Veterans Day, and Bobosky said it highlights the two branches of the military most vital during World War I.
"I think people are going to see the symmetry," he said. "They're both raising their right arms at each other in a gesture of hello or hooray. I think it tells a really nice story."