CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — He grew up in Grand Rapids and rose to the office of President of the United States.
A new statue of President Gerald R. Ford was unveiled Thursday at the airport that bears his name.
It’s the latest piece in the Grand Rapids Community Legends Project, an effort to honor the people who made West Michigan what it is today.
“Went through a lot of modifications, but we’re here, it’s finished and we love it,” said Charlie Secchia, chair of the Community Legends Project.
Ford probably didn’t pose for too many selfies in his day. But this new statue begs the passerby to slow down, take a seat and just maybe snap a picture.
“You don’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. And knowing who we were will help pilot us to the future,” said Secchia.
The Grand Rapids Community Legends Project has honored several Grand Rapids giants who’ve made the city what it is today, including former Mayor Lyman Parks, to Rosa Parks and Roger B. Chaffee.
“It’s nice not only to give back to the community but to honor our predecessors, the ones that built the culture, the community we have today. It’s a great feeling,” said Secchia.
Brett Grill is the artist and he’s sculpted Ford before. He likes how this piece is different.
“I’m really excited about this one because people are going to be able to climb on it, people are going to be able to sit next to it, take selfies with it and really get his story firsthand. Sometimes when you put a statue on a pedestal, it has a presence to it, but it’s not really part of the community experience,” said Grill.
Grill says the committee first considered having the statue out on the drive before you even get to the airport.
It’s placement in the newly unveiled Presidential Gateway Plaza has President Ford welcoming passengers back home — while thanking visitors for stopping by.
“I do think it’s a neat cultural event for both locals and travelers, out of towners, to see a little bit of our history to be able to read the plagues and learn who helped build and develop this great community we have today,” said Secchia.