A celebration marking the birthday of the famous story-teller Hans Christian Andersen will be held today at the Danish Immigrant Museum in the western Iowa town of Elk Horn. It’s an effort to raise money to restore Kimballton’s "Little Mermaid."
The statue has been a fixture in Kimballton for 30 years and is a replica of the statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, based on Anderson’s story "The Little Mermaid." Annette Andersen, restoration chair for the Little Mermaid project, says the statue plays a big part in Kimballton’s role as a tourist attraction and it needs a face-lift.
Anderson says they’ll have the mermaid re-cast so she can sit on her rock year-round instead of having to be taken in during the winter months. The Kimballton mermaid was sculpted by two California college students using gold-cast bronze fiberglass in 1977. Over the years, the statue has endured all types of weather conditions and is beginning to show wear and tear, like tiny cracks and its tint has faded.
Anderson says the re-casting process is being handled by a college student in Nebraska. She says a local artist who is setting up an art gallery in Kimballton is handling the project. The process involves creating a mold so the cracks can be filled in and the fitting is level and secure. A second mold will then be used to create the final casting.
To pay for the $12,000 restoration, a bake-sale fundraiser was held last fall, raffle tickets are being sold, and former residents are being contacted by mail to ask for contributions. The party marking Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday will also play a role in the fundraising effort. The entire project, including the fountain for the statue and the surrounding park, is expected to be ready for rededication during Kimballton’s 125th anniversary celebration in June of 2008.