Anthony Zimmerhakl, “Mr. Z,” was my middle school art teacher. He never questioned our art ability. He told us no drawing is perfect, but it’s your interpretation.

I can’t recall him having a name for the statue, but we all knew he was making it. He was very proud to have this opportunity. When that "Hiawatha" statue went up, it was definitely the signature of Riverside Park.

Busloads of people go on the La Crosse Queen. Everyone takes a picture next to the great work of art. I took our daughter there. All three of my grandchildren took pictures of tiny kids I put on the pedestal. Then, when they got bigger, they would pose like the statue for pictures.

Every out-of-town visitor wants to see it. When people go up and down the river, that statue signifies Riverside Park. What’s next? Are we going to question the nationality of the kids' statues by the levee? Is some eagle expert going to count the feathers or measure the wing span on the eagle sculpture? This is a beautiful park — with beautiful art. I’m now in my 70s and still love that statue. Everybody needs a facelift after 50 — but we’re still beautiful.

Kay Riel, La Crosse