Sculpture park statues come to life at Sunday event

Chloe Lorenz participated as a living statue of basket maker Emma Big Bear at the 2013 Twilight of the Living Statues event, a historical and interactive event for people of all ages that will take place again this year, on Sunday, May 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. Twilight is free; however donations will be accepted toward the park’s next statue, Aunt Mary Ann LaBuche. (Photo by Randy Paske)

Twilight of the Living Statues is a free event open to all families on Sunday, May 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park (across the street from the Villa Louis on St. Feriole Island) in Prairie du Chien. The event is sponsored by the Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Department. Visitors are encouraged to get into the “spirit” and come dressed as their favorite historical figure or persona. Visitors are invited to bring their own snacks and beverages.

The sculpture park is where fine art brings history to life. Life-sized bronze figures from the pages of history and prehistory gather together around a fire-ring, as if meeting for a present day rendezvous. Already installed are: Chief Blackhawk, Dr. Beaumont and son Israel, Victorian Lady, The Voyageur and Emma Big Bear.

Visitors to this year’s event will listen to vignettes presented by costumed local high school students and area talent who have been working with Luana Stiemke, Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation drama teacher and St. Gabriels’ School music teacher. Each “living statue” will tell their story of how their life made an impact on the history of southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the new addition of the Leamy Shelter as well as the newly installed Trail of Presidents trees north of the Sculpture Park.

The “Fun-Raising” Follies event, held in January in the Little Theater at the Prairie du Chien High School, kicked off the 2014 fund-raising efforts for the sculpture park board, as they work to “bring to life” Mary Ann LaBuche, Wisconsin’s first doctor.

Mary Ann LaBuche was a local healer known as “Aunt Mary Ann” by her faithful followers in the early 1800s. Mary Ann LaBuche used a medallion to save a child’s life from a scalping attack. LaBuche’s living statue will be roaming around during the event telling tales about her life and work.

Visitors’ generous donations will be gladly accepted to help continue the task of bringing Mary Ann LaBuche’s bronze life-sized statue to its permanent home in the park.

Bluff View fourth grade children are strongly encouraged to attend the event with their families. Each year, the fourth graders are required to do a report on historical figures as part of their curriculum.

Cindy Hertrampf, a retired teacher from the area who also serves on the sculpture park event committee, and teacher Mary Gasser created an opportunity for all fourth grade students to learn more information for his/her required class report.

Each fourth grader attending will receive a special token with historical significance. On the Monday after the event, those students with tokens will be invited to fill out a three-question survey reflecting on their experiences at the Mississippi River Sculpture Park event. Some of those wonderful fourth grade “insights” may be published in the Courier Press.

Should Sunday, May 4 prove to be too rainy for this outdoor event, the rain date will be Saturday, May 10 (the day before Mother’s Day). For more information, contact sculpture park board president Rogeta Halvorson at or (563) 880-9190.

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