Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spirit of Detroit Gets a Makeover

The city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and unfortunately the entire nation (thanks to AP stories!) knows the nitty gritty details of the shame and turmoil our great city has faced over the past year. But, a new leaf has turned. The dark clouds have parted and the city of Detroit is slowly peeling back the bandage that has covered one of its deepest wounds in history to begin the healing process.

This renaissance period, or rebirth of the city, that we are all so looking forward to really resonated yesterday at the Spirit of Detroit 50th anniversary celebration. I was lucky enough to sneak away from work for an hour to participate in the festivities. The mean, green machine has been a symbolic gem in our city for the past 50 years and has even donned many jerseys (yes, even a Lions jersey) to support our champion sports teams. But, he was in dire need of some revitalization. Age and weather had caused great damage to the statue's green patina exterior and marble base. Venus Bronze Works, Inc. in Detroit worked on the statue's restoration, while CASO-IMPEX in Birmingham handled the restoration of the Vermont marble backdrop and base. And I must say, he looks sharp :)

Here are some fun facts about the larger-than-life man:
  • The original sculptor was Marshall Fredericks.
  • He's made of bronze and weighs nine tons!
  • The Spirit was originally cast in Oslo, Norway and is the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance period.
  • He holds 24-karat gold leaf figures in each hand. One depicts a cradled family and the other is a spire representing a higher power.

According to Marshall Fredericks, "The statue represents the spirit of man. In his left hand, he holds a symbol of God, and in the right hand, a family group. It expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man, is manifested in the family, the noblest relationship."

If only Marshall would have known way back when that the statue's revitalization marks the beginning of Detroit's revitalization. For some time now, many creative folks in the state of Michigan have been working strenuously to revitalize our city to bring and retain creative talent. We got pushed back a few steps by all the D-town drama that we've faced this year, but I truly believe we are back on the right path.

I looked around at the faces in the crowd yesterday at the Spirit of Detroit celebration, and everyone there looked truly happy - happy to take part in the Spirit's b-day bash, happy to hear remarks from the city's new leadership and just plain happy to be happy about Detroit again! It reminded me that against all odds, I'm proud to say that I work and play in Detroit.

So happy 50th birthday Mr. Spirit of Detroit. Thanks for reigniting the flame in our Detroit spirit!

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