Cool December temperatures could not dampen the spirits of the Bronco faithful as Spring Hill district officials, community members, students and the artist who created the piece gathered together in the school’s courtyard for the official art unveiling Thursday morning.
More than a decade of hard work finally paid off for the Spring Hill community as the Bronco statue was dedicated in Bronco Plaza at the high school on Dec. 2. The 11-foot bronze statue as well as personalized engraved brick pavers and stone benches grace the area in front of Spring Hill High School.
Based on requests from the district, architects created Bronco Plaza as a place where students could come together. From the time that the area was conceived, designers planned on anchoring a large statue as the focal point.
“They felt like they needed a welcoming place, a place that showed off the beauty of the school and a place where people could gather together,” explained Christine Splichel, district communications director. She said that 100 percent of the money for the project was raised by community members and did not come out of district coffers.
Scott Robbins, booster club member, said that dedicating a substantial piece of art has long been a dream the Spring Hill community who, over the course of the last 15 years, have pulled together to raise monies to support the project.
“It started in the mid-1990s with the first group, led by Tom Carbajo,” recalled Robbins. “They worked hundreds of hours at fundraising events at Richards-Gebaur during air shows. They managed to save around $7,000, which sat tucked away in an account until the Bronco Booster Club resurrected the project in 2005.”
More recently the club has solicited donations from local businesses and community members, finding 30 benefactors who contributed at least $1,000 each. They also sold the brick pavers which line the plaza.
When the project started to become a reality, the booster club commissioned the piece from local artist John McCoy. Robbins explained that while McCoy was an established artist in this area, he had not worked on a piece of this scale before.
“He agreed to give us a discounted rate because this was the first large bronze sculpture he had ever done,” the Booster Club member recalled.
Robbins also said that during the process of creating the piece McCoy brought a foam template to the Spring Hill Civic Center where he allowed area children and community members to help place clay onto the figure. Later that form was used to create the mold for the bronze statue.
“There were a lot of hands – several hundred students and residents, the hands of the Spring Hill community created that project,” Robbins remembered. He said that the artist also included SHHS art students in the process, inviting them to the foundry to witness the pouring process.
While the community patiently awaited the arrival of the statue, officially installed on the campus Nov. 17, Robbins understands that it has been a long process. Many of the original Booster Club members who have worked on the project over the years have graduated their students, but persistence pays off. He believes that the reward for the district is a beautiful showpiece that will grace the plaza for many years to come.
“It took him several years to put it together because there are so many steps in creating an original bronze but he did a fantastic job. It took longer than anticipated, it takes time when you are creating an original piece of art, but we’re very proud to dedicate it,” Robbins said.