COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It was moved in 1999 for a City Hall renovation, and briefly relocated to the police operations center, but on Independence Day, a copper replica of the Statue of Liberty returned to where many residents believe is its rightful location.
"I didn't expect it to take eight years," said Stephanie Johnson, a community leader who spearheaded the effort to bring the statue back to City Hall. "I thought maybe three or four years, but not eight."
About 200 people attended a ceremony Monday outside City Hall to celebrate the statue's return. A fire department ladder truck unveiled the statue which rests on a new concrete base. Volunteers donated the effort and resources to restore the statue to its original condition and return it to City Hall.
Leonard Lemasany was among the Cub and Boy Scouts who raised money to present the statue to the city, and among four of those scouts who attended Monday's ceremony.
"I don't remember (it as) clear as yesterday," Lemasany said. "I do remember we sold newspapers to get pennies to build this."
The ceremony made an impression on a current Boy Scout.
"I just feel it's a great honor to be able to do this," said Andrew Lee, 14. "Seeing the statue being unveiled, it was a great thing."
During the restoration process done by an expert in Fort Collins, several layers of paint were removed. Johnson said the paint began peeling while it was at the police center.
"And they also replaced the torch," she said. "Someone many years ago cut the torch off and put a light bulb in it."
Johnson said because a time capsule in the base of the original statue disappeared after it was moved in 1999, great care will be taken to protect a new capsule to be inserted at a later date and to record the items placed within. One of the items to be placed in the new capsule is a commemorative Liberty neckerchief slide, or bolo, that was made for Scouts in 1950.
Organizers said about 300 statues were made by a Chicago company in 1950 as part of a campaign known as Strengthen The Arm of Liberty to celebrate the Boy Scouts' 40th anniversary. Colorado Springs received the second statue made and only a dozen remain, organizers said.
According to a reference at Wikipedia.org, the statues when built were 8.5 feet tall, weighed 290 pounds and cost $350. Boy Scout troops in 39 states purchased the statutes and donated them to their communities.