FREDONIA - The Fredonia Olympic Committee is trying to figure out how best to Jenn Suhr's Olympic gold medal.
The group met recently in Fredonia's Village Hall to discuss ideas.
"We have an opportunity to celebrate in a special way," said Julie Essek, committee chairwoman.
Committee leader Julie Essek encourages sharing of ideas regarding how best the village might celebrate Jenn Suhr’s gold medal victory.
Photo by Shirley Pulawski
Jenn Suhr is pictured with the American flag after her gold medal performance in the pole vault in the Summer Olympics.
One idea was repeated from 2008, when a silver ball was placed atop the ceremonial pole in Barker common. Now, the idea is to replace the silver ball with a gold ball.
"Can we do something that won't negate the original accomplishment?" asked Randy Anderson, committee member.
Several people in attendance discussed possibilities related to adding a gold ball in addition to a silver ball, or perhaps adding gold and silver flags to the pole beneath the American flag to represent Suhr's 2008 Beijing and 2012 London victories.
Gary Damico reminded the members anything done would have to be cleared by the Fredonia Village Board, and noted there were objections by some in 2008 to changing the character of the park with the original flag. Damico also explained the Historical Society would also have input into any decisions made. Further, Essek said all ideas have to be cleared by Suhr's agent as well, but the purpose of the meeting was to gather ideas before narrowing them down.
Essek said a second pole would cost more than $5,000 and felt it was too much for the organization's budget. Essek said she spoke with representatives of Titus Monuments about an addition to the current 24-inch by 12-inch non-polished monument in the park. She was told changes could be made to it to reflect the gold medal achievement for about $550. She asked about affixing a gold-colored medal to the monument, but was told its permanence could not be guaranteed against vandalism.
Stephen Keefe, Fredonia mayor, suggested having a brass statue designed by local artist Dave Poulin, with money to pay for a large statue gained from sale of miniatures of the ultimate statue. Several present voiced concerns over the cost of such an endeavor, which would likely take the artist an enormous amount of hours and labor and materials, making it a costly project.
Other ideas discussed included naming a track or road after Suhr and commemorative benches in the park, possibly with surrounding brick work.
"I'd like to see a place that invites you to walk in and look around," Anderson said.
A historical marker like the one found in front of the birth home of Lucille Ball in Lakewood or Howard Ehmke in Silver Creek was also suggested. Fredonia Central School was discussed as a possible home, and several agreed its presence could be inspirational to students.
One idea seemed to have a lot of support: identical signs at each of the four main entrances to the village on Route 60 and Route 20 which would commemorate the birthplace of Suhr and her 2012 Olympic gold medal win.
Other non-permanent ideas to celebrate included a street jump and a parade, perhaps similar to the relay held in Fredonia in 2008 after the silver victory.