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Local

Reagan home at last

Hundreds on hand for unveiling of ‘Begins the Trail’

State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, (far right) is among hundreds of visitors on hand for the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue “Begins the Trail” Friday at Dixon’s new Heritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza.
State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, (far right) is among hundreds of visitors on hand for the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue “Begins the Trail” Friday at Dixon’s new Heritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza.

DIXON – A little more than a year after shovels first broke ground at Heritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza, a decades-old vision was realized.

Hundreds of residents gathered under the shade of tents and along the shore Friday as officials dedicated the $4.5 million plaza and unveiled a life-size statue of Ronald Reagan.

Speakers recognized the hard work and dedication of past and present generations in transforming the once-barren riverfront. Mostly, though, they talked about the future.

“We’ve just begun,” Mayor Jim Burke said. “Stick around.”

The plaza was the first phase in the city’s plan to revitalize the downtown area and Hennepin Avenue, which boasts the 40th president’s boyhood home, library, school and church.

Don Reed, a Dixon native and sculptor of the “Begins the Trail” statue, said he hoped the figure captured some of Reagan’s “energy and warmth” and that residents would be able to “identify with him as someone a lot like us.”

“’Begins the Trail’ has taken many years to get here,” Reed said.

“We’re here to celebrate our town, our heritage, and a great American,” said Reed. “It is good news to know young Mr. Reagan is home again.”

Before officials unveiled the statue, a $200,000 gift to the city, the chairman of the Riverfront Commission handed over his labor of love.

“We were charged to make the Rock River an asset to our community – that was the mission,” Larry Reed told the crowd. “But the riverfront really is for you.”

Dixon residents Bruce and Pat Anderson watched officials pull the canvas off the figure of Reagan, mounted on horseback, in the center of the plaza.

“It’s very impressive,” Bruce said. “We will try to use it the best we can.”

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