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Dentist to unveil Statue of Liberty replica at dusk July 4

Thursday, July 3, 2008 | 6:39 p.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Dentist Fred Christman rewraps a tarp around his replica of the Statue of Liberty on Thursday afternoon at his dental practice on West Boulevard in Columbia. Christman plans to unveil and light the statue, which he found at a Kansas City antique mall and renovated over the past four months, at dusk on the Fourth of July.

In a Kansas City antique mall about four months ago, Fred Christman, a dentist, and his wife, Cathy, purchased a 10-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty. The old paint was chipped, and the statue was lost among other treasures in the mall.

Christman said he had his eye on it for several months , always assuming it was made of paper mache, but something changed that day. When he walked up to the statue and touched it, he discovered it was actually metal.

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At that point, according to Cathy Christman, he said he had to buy it. Now, after four months of restoration, he is ready to unveil the statue, complete with a concrete pedestal, at dusk July 4, in front of his dentist office. The office is at 9 West Blvd., just behind D&H Drug Store at West Boulevard and Broadway.

Even before the statue appeared, Christman’s patients knew he loved his country.

Joanne and Chester Racinowski have been patients and friends of Christman for two years.

“My husband is a veteran of the Korean War,” Joanne Racinowski said. “We were in one day and he (Christman) had flag pins so he gave them to us. Our grandson is in the Marines stationed in Iraq and we’ve talked about that. He’s a wonderful dentist, and he and his wife are very caring people.”

Christman has four original patriotic posters on the wall of his office. One, a lithograph from 1942, has images of the American flag with 48 stars, airplanes, the Statue of Liberty and a parade of soldiers in uniform. A second poster with original flags shows when each of the states was admitted to thecountry.

“Anytime we can find anything like that, I just buy it,” Christman said. “I’m always on the lookout for them. I’m an American. Sometimes we might not agree with the way the government acts, but we should always be proud of our country.”

Although he served in the Illinois National Guard for eight years, Christman said his love for America stems from his childhood.

“It was influenced by the fireworks, the flag, the parades and the soldiers in parades,” he said. “We have so many things here that some people don’t have. My love for my country has always been there.”

He hopes the replica of the statue outside his office will symbolize the freedom and independence of America.

“As we were putting it up Tuesday night a stream of people came by to stop and look at it,” Christman said. “One of the neighbors stopped to take a picture and that made me feel really good.”

He said part of his inspiration to buy the replica came from seeing the original statue in New York Harbor years ago.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It’s awe-inspiring when you look across the harbor.”

Chester Racinowski said the original statue has special significance for him as well, because his parents were immigrants from Poland. They saw the statue when they entered the harbor, and he said his mother thought it was a sight to behold.

Christman decided the Fourth of July was the perfect day to unveil the statue. He estimated that eight people helped fix it over the past four months. They had to strip paint off of the statue, visit paint stores to try to match the original color of the statue in New York Harbor, take a sign out of the space where the statue is now located, pour a concrete pedestal and prepare a two-inch copper piece for the base.

In addition, the replica was completely rewired. Waterproof wiring reaches from the pedestal to the top of the statue’s arm. There is a light bulb in the globe that will shine every night from dusk to dawn starting tonight.

“I didn’t know there was anything like this out there,” Christman said. “I have been searching eBay, and I can’t find anything. I have no idea of the history behind it, and I’d love to have some information about where it’s from.”

Chester Racinowski and Christman said the welded aluminum might indicate the replica was created after the 1930s. Christman said he will continue to research its origins.

The replica will be unveiled and lighted at Christman’s office at dusk tonight. He says it will be a sight to see.

“When the light shines on her, with all of the convex surfaces and complexities, it puts a neat shadow on it and lightly colors her face,” he said. “I look at that and my heart just thumps, you know? If you’re patriotic and you care about our country as we do, it is kind of a neat touch.”


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