Town Where Reagan Was Lifeguard Plans 'Un-Presidential' Swimsuit Statue

Image: Town Where Reagan Was Lifeguard Plans 'Un-Presidential' Swimsuit Statue Dixon, Ill., Mayor Jim Burke, left,, and Dixon Park Board President Ron Pritchard, listen as Tom Whitcombe speaks about his grandfather being saved by Ronald Reagan when the 40th president was a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon.

Sunday, 16 Feb 2014 07:55 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The town of Dixon, Ill., where Ronald Reagan spent his formative years, and his summers as a lifeguard, plans to honor the late president with a bronze statue depicting him with his hair parted in the middle and wearing a one-piece swimsuit typical of the era, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said the debatably un-presidential sculpture was actually an authentic reflection of Reagan as a young man.

"We talked about it," Burke said. "Everybody agreed that the statue is of him as a young man, when he was parting his hair down the middle.... I think if Reagan was alive, he'd approve of it because of that spot being such a big part of his life," according to the Times.

The statue is to be situated on the northern banks of the Rock River in Lowell Park. It will show Reagan striding to the rescue. He is credited with saving 77 lives at the beach, though local lore has it that some women may have pretended to be in danger so that the good-looking lifeguard would deliver them to safety.

For seven summers, Reagan earned cash and worked his way through college in the lifeguard job.

Reagan lived in Dixon from when he was 9 until age 22. The connection to the late president — who died in 2004 at age 93 — is an important tourist resource for the town of 16,000, about 100 miles west of Chicago.

"There are a lot of people who'll come to town for a Reagan visit and the first thing they ask is, 'Where is Lowell Park?'"

There is already a presidential statue of him at his boyhood home: a Queen Anne style two story house with a gable roof on Hennepin Avenue. Another along the Rock River shows him as an adult but on horseback wearing a T-shirt.

Burke is trying to raise $200,000 in private money for the lifeguard statue. With the help of the local chamber of commerce and Republican supporters, among others, $7,000 in seed money for a working design has already been raised.

A team at the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Ill., has been selected to make the sculpture which would likely be placed atop a 7 foot tall limestone base, according to artist Omri Amrany.

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