The Century Walk Corporation

After 50 years of fun, this cat's antics still aren't done

June 19, 2007 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Kate R. Houlihan

Call it a 50th birthday present fit for a feline who caused all sorts of havoc in a household one day when the mother of two kids was away.

Dr. Seuss' beloved book creature the Cat in the Hat turns 50 this year. And if Century Walk leaders have their way, a bronze, 8-foot statue of the cat known for his red-and-white-striped hat will be installed near Nichols Library by August or early fall as part of the ongoing public art project.

Brand Bobosky, Century Walk president, said the goal is to get the cat to his new home by the time school is in session.

"We need to work this all out with the library and there is a question mark because of the (parking) deck going there," Bobosky said Monday.

Of course, there's also cost to consider. One of nine "monument size" sculptures commissioned as part of the Theodor Seuss Geisel estate, Bobosky said it cost Century Walk $110,000 to buy. He calls that a deal, seeing as remaining 8-foot cats are now costing $150,000.

"There's a tie there because we do have the No. 1 library and this is the second most read book in the world," Bobosky said. "It's second only to the Bible. Every parent and grandparent knows the Cat in the Hat."

Bobosky said he thinks seven of the nine cat sculptures have been sold so far and that Century Walk's might be the only one available for public viewing and not placed in a private collection.

Century Walk recently completed its first phase of public art with 30 pieces installed in the downtown area commemorating local visionaries and the city's history. As the art program stretches into the next half-decade, the idea is to extend placement of public art from the downtown, throughout Naperville and to allow for a greater span of subjects.

Most recently a statue of Mayor George Pradel from his police officer days was installed next to Washington Junior High School. It was the 30th and final piece in the initial phase. Eventually Bobosky wants to install a sculpture of Naperville philanthropists and developer Harold and Margaret Moser near SS Peter and Paul.

A $30,000 down payment for the Cat in the Hat statue - which Bobosky called a smart move, as it allowed them to get in on the ground floor for the $110,000 amount - drew some ire from City Council members earlier in the year because they had no previous knowledge that the artwork program would continue.

Recently Bobosky came before council at a workshop meant to address questions about the Special Events and Cultural Amenities Fund allocation process, asking them to reconsider the $80,000 handout Century Walk received this year.

Now city leaders are calling for a five-year plan for Century Walk.

"How can we predict (the ideas) which come from our community members?"  Bobosky said.

Contact Kate Houlihan  at khoulihan@scn1.com  or 630-416-5224.

Bobosky|Century Walk leaders want an 8-foot statue of Dr. Seuss' beloved book creature the Cat in the Hat in place by August or early fall.|Bobosky


Section: AROUND TOWN — Page: 19