West Valley Gets Statue of ‘Fernando’

Warner Center now has its own “Fernando.”

A statue of a Native American in the Van Nuys Civic Center, Fernando stands as an icon for Fernando Award Inc., formed in 1958 to honor community members who work to improve the quality of life in the San Fernando Valley.

In 1963, the organization erected the life-size bronze statue as a tribute to the Valley’s first settlers.

Since then, the Valley has grown westward, while the statue has had decreased visibility and increased maintenance problems.


Two years ago consideration was given to moving the statue farther west toward the population center of the Valley, said David Fleming, past president and past recipient of the award. Homeowner and civic groups were upset.

“On discovering the outpouring of community feeling about leaving the original Fernando statue in Van Nuys, our board of directors decided to create an entirely new model and place it in Warner Park,” said Fleming, an attorney who lives in Studio City.

The new Fernando is a 19-foot bronze and marble obelisk featuring a bas relief of the Native American on four sides and a plaque with the names of the award’s past recipients.

Mayor Richard Riordan joined other officials and a number of Fernando recipients Thursday morning next to the park’s Lou Bredlow Pavilion for the unveiling.


Attorney Lee Kanon Alpert, a Northridge resident and president of Fernando Award Inc., said the obelisk, when floodlit at night, resembles a replica of the Washington Monument.

“The light on the obelisk is indicative of the light our volunteers bring to this community,” he said. “It truly is a monument to volunteerism.”