It takes a city to build a statue.
And more than anything, that’s what I love most about the effort to erect the Crusher statue in downtown South Milwaukee — that it inspired a community to work together toward a singular goal worthy of a great man.
I saw it as Chris Smith first approached a few of us at City Hall with this crazy idea, expecting we might see this day come 10 or 20 years from now, not less than 24 months later.
I saw it shortly after the idea went public and viral, and hundreds of people donated for the statue in days, often $5, $10, $25 at a time, and a couple — including South Milwaukee’s own Molthen-Bell & Son Funeral Home — coming in at $10,000.
I saw it as momentum built around getting this done, and this formerly crazy idea from our city attorney quickly became real, as in, “South Milwaukee is really going to get a Crusher statue … how ’bout that?”
I saw it with the Lisowski family, who has been so supportive as this has ramped up, and remain so today.
I saw it as South Milwaukee native Beth Sahagian, sculptor Tom Holleran and the team at Vanguard Sculpture Services eagerly took on the project — with their work of art to be unveiled today for the world, and generations to come, to enjoy.
I saw it as we began work on figuring out where to put the statue, settling on a city-owned parking lot that 100 years ago was Depot Park, a community gathering place that will again proudly used that way again, right in the middle of our successful weekly farmers’ market.
I saw it as Crusherfest plans started to take shape, as Chris Smith and Crusher Foundation supporters started work on organizing an event worthy of the “Wrestler Who Made Milwaukee Famous.”
I saw it as the site plan progressed and buildout began, as the transformation from a soul-less patch of asphalt to what you see today went from idea to reality in about four weeks — a remarkable feat that only happened due to the hard work of dozens of volunteers, our city engineer, and companies like Butch Miller Construction, Kujawa Enterprises Inc. and EK Construction.
I see it today, as dozens of volunteers, local businesses and organizations step up to put on this event and make this day even more special.
Indeed, today this big bet on our proud past and promising future pays off with a beautiful, bold and lasting tribute to our most famous native son, someone who was the epitome of the traits that continue to make South Milwaukee such a special place.
Hard work. Dedication. Community pride. Kindness. Family first. Fun.
We have a terrific story to tell in South Milwaukee, one that is uniquely ours and absolutely authentic. Da Crusher is a part of that, and we proudly celebrate him, his family and everyone who made this happen both today and in the years ahead as every fan who visits this new local landmark shares their Crusher photo with the world.
We, as a city, united behind a big idea in a way that not many communities would. We wrote this chapter of our story, together, and today we share it with the world.
I can’t be prouder to say … This is Crusher Country!