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Hiawatha statue set to be removed early Monday

WIZM staff

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The large Native American statue in Riverside Park known as Hiawatha is scheduled to be removed on Monday morning.

La Crosse Parks Director Jay Odegaard tells WIZM News that the park is tentatively scheduled to close at 5 a.m. Monday, with the actual process of removal likely to take about four hours.

Odegaard says the timing of the removal was decided partly because of repairs being done to Veterans Memorial Drive through Riverside Park, which passes by the statue’s location.

“One of the pieces of equipment that will be needed to move the Hiawatha statue is a crane that’s going to have a possibility of creating damage to the road,” said Odegaard. To avoid that risk, “now is a good time with the road starting to be under construction (Monday) to get the statue removed.”

Odegaard also said the park department wants the work done before a scheduled cruise on the La Crosse Queen riverboat, docked near Hiawatha.

“The idea is once the statue is removed, the base will be taken out by city staff,” Odegaard said.

The park board voted in July to remove the Indian statue, which was installed along the riverfront in 1961.

On Friday, the board voted on their recommendations for the statue that will replace Hiawatha.

“I want to emphasize that the arts board is committed to this being a very deliberate and thoughtful process, nothing done in haste,” Arts Board Member Jennifer Williams said.

The board said ultimately, it will be the mayor’s decision, but it invites experienced artists to submit qualifications for the design of a sculpture. They are looking for a dynamic piece that can engage the public while visually enhancing the surrounding park. A selection committee will select up to three finalists. Those finalists would receive a $1,000 design stipend for their presentation. The final design will become the property of the city of La Crosse.

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