A fooball Hall of Famer, Jim Parker of Canton, Ohio, is planning to pay tribute to legendary Jim Thorpe by erecting an 18-foot bronze statue of him in downtown Canton.
Parker said that he wants to draw attention to Central Plaza (Market Avenue and Tuscaroawas Street) and the Hall of Fame Museum and one way to do that is to make the town triangle more attractive.
"They spent $27 million to remodel the Hall of Fame museum for the 50th anniversary," he said. "As part of the improvements, the 1963 statue of Jim Thorpe that is in the Hall of Fame has been put on a nicer pedestal and they have given the rotunda a new entrance, but the statue doesn't even look much like him. It's poor quality. It's made of plaster of Paris."
Parker said that he has been in other cities which have major attractions, you can tell right away when you get into town as to what the town has to offer, while Canton's downtown has nothing to promote the museum in its downtown area.
"I've been to Cooperstown, N.Y. and the entire community is themed," Parker said. "There is baseball memorabilia all over the place."
Parker said that he also wants to see Canton preserve its history.
"We have great bicycle trails, which we call the towpath trails in our park system," added Parker.
"I'd like to see Canton have a reputation as an artist downtown," he said.
Parker has been working with artist Jim Beitze to create the perfect statue of Jim Thorpe.
"The statue is in the formative stage," he said. "We want to do this right."
The plan calls for selling 24-inch miniature statues of the former Canton Bulldog great to raise money to erect the bronze statue in the town triangle.
For about the last two years, Parker has talked with city officials and others about his plan to honor the Thorpe legacy.
The project will be free to the city.
The plans are to sculpt (Thorpe) in such a way it's classical realism.
"Of course, it's pending the Jim Thorpe estate approval," said Parker.
Parker envisions the bronze statue on a 4-foot high marble or granite base.
Parker has maintained that Canton has been neglectful in paying homage to Thorpe and the city's football heritage.
Parker said he has been in contact with a member of Thorpe's family about the plans. He said he also has been exploring any potential obstacles involving the licensing of Thorpe's image.
Parker said that he has not been to the town of Jim Thorpe, but understands there is quite a nice memorial to Jim Thorpe and he would like to see it someday.