Betterment Committee will put frame around big Santa mural in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2022 at 11:22 am

Group asks village to move historical marker, sign to make room for bronze statue

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Albion Betterment Committee wants a bronze statue that looks like Santa Claus to go in front the of Santa mural at Waterman Park on Main Street. A historical marker and sign promoting local events would need to be moved to make room for the statue. The 24-foot-long mural will get a 3-inch border to protect the edges of the large painting.

ALBION – The Village Board agreed to let the Albion Betterment Committee put in a 3-inch metal border around a 24-foot-long mural of Santa Claus in a sleigh flying over the Orleans County Courthouse and downtown Albion.

The Betterment Committee will pay for the costs of the border, which will look like a frame for the large painting and also protect the edges.

The mural at Waterman Park on Main Street was spearheaded by the Albion Rotary Club and was completed in July 2018. The mural is on village property and given to the village by the Rotary Club.

Stacey Kirby Steward, an Albion native, painted the mural. The project commemorates the life and work of Charles W. Howard.  In 1937, Howard founded a Santa Claus School in Albion, dedicating his life to establishing a high standard for Santas everywhere.

The Betterment Committee is working to add more to the site celebrating the life of Howard and promoting Albion’s Santa story.

The committee has raised $100,000 for a bronze statue of Santa. That statue is expected to be done and installed in May 2023, and then dedicated the following month during the Strawberry Festival.

Brian Porter, a sculptor from Pendleton, shows members of the Albion Betterment Committee a 6-foot-high clay mold of Santa Claus in Porter’s garage on Saturday. That statue will be cast in bronze and installed in about a year.

Two members of the Betterment Committee, Joe Gehl and Natsha Wasuck, asked the Village Board on Wednesday to relocate a historic marker and also a sign that functions as a for community events. The committee wants the statue to be where those elements are. The statue shows a Santa in a welcoming pose with an outstretched hand and arm.

The marker and sign could be moved about a block south to the village municipal lot next to the Presbyterian Church, Wasuck suggested.

The committee would like the village’s help in a concrete pad that would be about 3-by-4 feet. (A local business may donate the concrete.) A sandstone slab would go on top of the concrete as the base for the statue. Village Attorney John Gavenda suggested the committee have the size of the base engineered to ensure it can hold the 800-pound statue.

Wasuck also asked for the village to run electricity to the site so lights could be displayed on the statue at night. The committee would cover those costs.

The committee also wants to work on the lower parts of the buildings adjoining Waterman Park through paint and new bricks. Conrad Cropsey told the committee he would approve of the work at the committee’s expense. The other building owner, Colleen Albright, wants to work on her own building, Wasuck said.

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. said the board wants to see the intentions of Cropsey and Albright in writing before giving any approval.

The board said it was OK with the 3-inch frame on the mural for now. There is still plenty of time to discuss the other requests from the committee because the bronze statue won’t be ready for about a year.