Mayor Don Wesely today hosted the kick-off for the 2001 "Pennies for Lincoln" campaign to raise $15,000 -- 1.5 million pennies -- for a new sculpture in Cooper Park, 8th and 'E' streets. "Daydreams" by Sondra Jonson of Cambridge, Nebraska is a four-foot bronze sculpture of a young girl and her dog.
"Last year when we had our first Pennies for Lincoln campaign, the community responded by raising $17,500 for a new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln," Wesely said at a news conference at Park Middle School, which adjoins Cooper Park. "We believe the community will again support this important public art project to bring this beautiful work of art to Cooper Park, our city’s first park." The 2000 campaign funded "The Rail Joiner," which depicts a young Lincoln. It was placed last May at the Justice and Law Enforcement Center, 575 South 10th Street.
The South Salt Creek Community Organization has already raised about $3,800 for the project from local businesses, organizations and neighborhood associations. Other major partners in the campaign are the Mayor’s Office; the city Parks and Recreation Department; the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC); Lincoln Public Schools, specifically Park Middle School and Everett Elementary; and the Capital Humane Society.
"The relationship between people and animals is just one of the themes this sculpture suggests," said Margaret Berry, LAC Executive Director. "Park Middle School has already had a poetry and essay contest focusing on the idea of ‘Daydreams.’ And the sculpture reminds some people of Dorothy and Toto from the movie ‘Wizard of Oz.’"
Steve Larrick of the South Salt Creek Community Organization said the "Wizard of Oz" theme also has a historic connection to Cooper Park. The story is thought to be symbolic of the populist philosophy of William Jennings Bryan, Lincoln’s two-time Democratic nominee for U.S. President. Bryan and his wife were in attendance at Cooper Park when the first major. improvements to the park were dedicated in July 1900.
Penny containers will be located at sponsoring organizations and businesses across Lincoln. The giant penny provided by Lincoln Federal Savings Bank will be on display throughout the community. More information is available at the LAC web site www.artscene.org.