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Altoona approves River Prairie sculpture project

Friday, November 15, 2019
Denton Postlewait | WEAU

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Thanks to $15,000 in grants from the Union Pacific Railroad and Xcel Energy, The City of Altoona is moving forward with a plan to add three sculptures depicting trolls to River Prairie Park. According to Altoona City Administrator, Mike Golat, what makes the project so unique is the design and the way the sculptures will function.

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"This is another opportunity to provide more of an interactive sculpture to be enjoyed by children and adults alike," Golat said.

River Prairie Park is quickly becoming the go-to spot for art and culture in Eau Claire County. Now, the park will feature a new project; three interactive troll sculptures.

"They'll be able to but their hands on it and it'll make sounds, the lights will come on and the more interaction with the sculpture, the more that happens," Golat said.

Golat said trolls were important in Scandinavian folklore and represent Wisconsin's rich Scandinavian heritage.

"It's whimsical; it has its roots in folklore and the Scandinavian heritage in Wisconsin," Golat said. "I think it'll be something that resonates with people generally here."

The project is being funded by a $10,000 grant from union pacific, $5,000 from Xcel Energy, $6,000 from the Altoona Tourism Fund and $2,000 from Recreation Special Event funds.

"River prairie has quickly become our most popular park," Golat said. "It's built on place making principles. The idea is to give a variety of things to wide demographics to come there and hang out."

The city has partnered with Solar Fora to incorporate solar energy into the sculpture.

"As solar becomes more popular, you're looking for a way to add those artfully into different environments in the built environment," Golat said.

Golat said while the exact site has yet to be determined, they have an idea of where it will be

"We're going to have to find a good spot for it. We think we have one. It's where the badminton net currently. That's something we conceived from the beginning, but isn't being used at all."

As for River Prairie, Golat said there are a lot of exciting things happening in the area

"It's kind of our showcase place to be in Altoona. We think this will be a real nice addition to this area," he said.

Golat said the city is now full steam ahead on constructing the sculptures over the winter and will install them in May. The design was created by a Swedish child-play specialist and will be constructed by Artisan Forge in Eau Claire.

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