‘Ponies in the Park’
Kicks off Pony Express station opening, statue fund-raiser.
There will be ponies in Ehmen Park Saturday and entertainment, speakers , a ham and bean lunch and plenty of games and entertainment.
The occasion, named “Ponies in the Park,” focuses on fund-raising for a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Pony Express rider to be placed in the park.
It also signifies the opening of the Pony Express Station for the tourist season.
Pony Express Association National president Jim Swigart, of Pollock Pines, CA, will speak during the event, which is from 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Artist Gary Ginther of Cambridge will present his design for the bronze, entitled “Departing Midway.”
Kathy Marten of rural Gothenburg, who is newsletter editor for the National Pony Express Association, said members hope to raise $145,000 for the bronze, which includes a stand and a brick wall with the names of donors.
Marten said a down payment of $30,000 to Ginther means the artist will start on the life-size piece. She said they hope to raise that much before summer so he can begin the work.
She noted that Nebraska is the only state, along the route, that doesn’t have a Pony Express monument. A statue in Sidney is a national monument.
Nebraska also had the most miles of the horseback-carried mail route.
In addition to donations from Nebraskans, Marten said they hope to receive money from the other seven states through which the route passed.
People should come to Saturday’s event, she said, since the Pony Express station in Gothenburg is a major tourist draw.
“It’s also important to remember that the riders had a commitment to moving the mail,” Marten said. “The American spirit is epitomized in the spirit of the riders and the dangers they faced.”
A freewill offering will be taken for the lunch, which will be what riders used to eat—ham and beans, cornbread, cookies and cowboy coffee.
Marten said those who attend the event, especially children, can enjoy kids games, prizes, pony rides, country music and more.
A mail exchange will be re-enacted and kids, on older horses, can also exchange mail and receive an authentic certificate.
Riders will also act out Johnny Fry. Fry was a rider who was popular with women along the route. Women would hold out sticks with cookies and other sweets for Fry to snatch as he rode by.
“We’ll have a race with stick ponies and kids will get a donut on a stick,” Marten said.