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Sturgis Statue That Got No Respect Removed

July 27, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

No respect follows Dangerfield even after death.

The statue got no respect.

The likeness of Rodney Dangerfield, which since 2006 had been overlooking Sturgis, S.D., from the Sturgis RV Park hillside, was removed Tuesday morning (July 26).

“It will never be in the public view again,” park owner J.D. Lawson told the Rapid City Journal. (Click here to see an image from the newspaper.)

According to park manager Bill Fortner, who runs the park with his wife, Sherrin, the statue was greeted with a mixture of curiosity and disgust by visitors coming to the park.

“You’d be amazed how many people traveling through think that it’s unique,” Fortner said. “But a lot of people also think it’s disrespectful. I’d rather remove something that people think is disrespectful than keep up something that people think is unique.”

The statue, which appears to be made of foam and then covered in a spray concrete-like finish, was erected in 2006 because the previous owner thought he bore a striking resemblance to Dangerfield, a comedian and actor famous for his role in movies such as “Caddyshack” and “Back By Midnight.”

The statue cost the park’s previous owner about $15,000 to make and weighs about 1,000 pounds, Lawson said.

The removal is part of Lawson’s five-year plan to beautify the park. Letters spelling out “Mt. Rodney RV Park” have also been removed and instead replaced with “Sturgis RV Park” to reflect the name change that took place last August. In addition, Lawson has worked to beautify the hill that Dangerfield’s image once graced by growing more grass, removing rock and planting trees.

Lawson hopes to replace the statue with an 80-foot flag pole.

“We thought everybody would like a flag pole instead of a Rodney head,” Lawson said.

Lawson hopes that with the continuing beautification of the park and its central location, the park will be better positioned to work with downtown businesses.

“We want to beautify the RV park to make it a more aesthetically pleasing downtown feature,” Lawson said. “We want to work hand in hand with downtown Sturgis, because when our guests come to stay they spend their time downtown when they come here. We’re hoping that by removing the Rodney head we can make it more aesthetically pleasing.”

Fortner and Lawson have a few ideas on how to dispose of the statue. Lawson, who lives in Missouri, says a bar owner there would consider putting it on the bar’s roof.

“Then it is out of South Dakota,” Lawson said.

If that isn’t an option, Lawson said, they may bury it atop the hill or haul it to the city dump.

“It’s a great relief,” Fortner said of the removal. “Whether they like it or don’t like it, I have to explain who it is and why it is.”

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