Monday evening, the Perry community showed up in Caboose Park to officially welcome the third Streetscape Sculpture on Willis Avenue, this one titled “Speed Train.”
The sculpture was created by Jim Russell. He says it represents the Hiawatha steam trains that used to frequent Perry in the golden age of railroads, which helped put the City on the map. Russell was pleased with how the sculpture turned out, as well as the large crowd that showed up to celebrate it. “I think there’s a great turnout and everybody’s pretty excited, so that makes me, as the artist, feel good. You know, we feel like we’ve accomplished something that everybody in the community can be proud of, and certainly backs up my own pride!”
The event was emceed by Raccoon Valley Radio’s Shawn Kenney, with the Big Red Radio providing public address services. Perry Mayor John Andorf got up first and thanked everyone for coming, and those who had a hand in bringing the sculpture to reality. City Administrator Sven Peterson then talked about the project, which included bringing in train historian Skip Lowe to collaborate on the design of the sculpture. Russell then took the stage to talk about the process of bringing the art to life, which he said spoke to the train-loving kid inside him.
Finally, Lowe spoke about the history of the railroad in Perry, and how the sculpture is an apt representation of an important facet of the City’s past. He added, when people look at “Speed Train” in the years to come, he hopes they will be transported to their Perry roots. “You know, really it starts with home. And I think that as these younger kids grow up and they look at that, it’s a symbol of their town. And they’re going to know that it means something about the bike trail, it means something about their great-grandparents, their history, and their home.”
Each person who spoke also thanked La Poste Co-owners Jenny Eklund, Mary Rose Nichols, and Colleen Eckhoff for their hard work on the entire Streetscape project. The unveiling event featured free tacos provided by El Tren, ice cream from The Outside Scoop, and a reception with wine at Hotel Pattee.