Newport to dedicate Reagan statue Oct. 9

With debates about location, partisanship and appropriateness behind them, Newport Beach city officials will dedicate a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan next weekend at Bonita Canyon Sports Park.

The City Council earlier this year agreed to commission the artwork entirely with private donations in honor of 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth.

Newport Beach artist Miriam Baker was hired to sculpt a statue that City Manager Dave Kiff has called "a remarkable likeness" of the 40th president and former California governor.

"President Reagan was a transformational leader who inspired not only Americans, but freedom-loving people throughout the world," Councilman Keith Curry said in a news release. "He was a frequent visitor to Newport Beach, and I am proud that our community will join London and Budapest in recognizing the centennial of his birth with a statue honoring his role in extending freedom to millions."

Curry, who worked for the Reagan administration, will speak at the dedication, as will U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Reagan Foundation Chief Development Officer John Shaw.

The proposal to erect the statue stirred a public debate over whether and how to honor the Republican Party icon, who was born Feb. 6, 1911, in Tampico, Ill. Some residents opposed putting what they saw as a partisan statue on public grounds while others argued that Reagan's popularity transcended party lines.

Despite the controversy, Baker told the Daily Pilot earlier this year that she has gotten only positive reactions from city officials and friends.

Baker, who has lived and worked on Balboa Island for about 15 years, has said the project will cost about $30,000 for the materials and foundry, and the city is paying her about $50,000, which was raised through private donations.

The dedication ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 9 at the park, 1990 Ford Road.

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