Welcome reception set for statue creator

More than four decades ago residents were able to watch Peter Wolf Toth carve the Native American Whispering Giant near Washington Park. Now, residents have a rare opportunity to see Toth in action again. Toth has traveled from Florida back to New York to restore the original statue.

The artist arrived in the city of Dunkirk earlier this week and is working on the statue next to the Tim Hortons location on Route 5. A public welcoming celebration and a meet-and-greet will be held Thursday at the Dockside Cafe behind the Clarion.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event that will take place at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony will feature speakers County Executive Vince Horrigan and Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, with awards and proclamations for Toth. Light refreshments and a cash bar will close out the event just in time for Music on the Pier.

“We want him to meet some of the people who saw him work on the statue many years ago,” David Kleparek, community Chamber coordinator, said.

Toth traveled to Dunkirk, thanks in part to Tim Hortons’ owner Gina Kron, who reached out to him at his home studio. He agreed to come to Chautauqua County to see if he could restore the statue. According to Toth, he is anticipating the restoration to take about a month and this project is like none other. Previous statues he has worked on always are vertical during the restoration and this is the first time Toth is working on one of his creations that is horizontal. Kron is very excited all the hard work to get Toth back to Dunkirk has finally paid off.

“I’m so excited it fell together to get him here,” she said. “The community has been wonderful with stopping by to talk to him.”

Donations are still being taken at the three local Tim Hortons locations and also at Toth’s workspace. For more information, “Like” Dunkirk’s Whispering Giant, Wooden Indian Sculpture on Facebook.

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