MANHATTAN, Kan. (Feb. 4, 2019 – Press Release) – Days after Kansans observed the 158th anniversary celebration of statehood, a Kansas folk legend will experience a significant refurbishment effort in Manhattan’s City Park. The Johnny Kaw statue constructed in 1966 already received minor modifications in 2018, and now the southeast park area surrounding the statue will convert into a plaza to commemorate the Kansas folk legend.
At 4 p.m. Feb. 4, groundbreaking ceremonies for plaza expansion construction take place at Manhattan City Park. The $279,000 project has received nearly one-third of funding through community generosity with $85,000 cash pledges. Remaining construction costs will be donated with in-kind donations of materials and labor by area businesses and building trades companies. Multiple key partners in the project include McCownGordon Construction and McMillan Architects along with the City of Manhattan.
The expanded Johnny Kaw Plaza will include increased lighting and six “story panels” that detail the Johnny Kaw legend. The area expects to meet ADA requirements and will include limestone-rock seating in front of the statue. The Johnny Kaw legend was the creation of Kansas State University agronomy professor George Filinger to celebrate Manhattan’s 1955 centennial.
The statue was unveiled 11 years later, and one year ago Visit Manhattan and city residents celebrated the fundraising kickoff with Johnny Kaw’s 52nd birthday party. Manhattan Mayor Mike Dodson and other officials are scheduled to speak at the Feb. 4 groundbreaking. Media, residents and Johnny Kaw fans are invited to attend.
May 5-11 marks National Tourism Week and once construction is finished, Johnny Kaw’s next birthday party on May 9 will couple with a ribbon-cutting and dedication as part of the plaza-opening celebration.