Visitors to Kemmerer on Friday, Jan. 29, would have been amazed to see a 9-foot bronze statue standing up on a trailer being pulled about the Triangle. Those who have been following the city, however, would know it is the J.C. Penney statue, desk and plaques donated to Kemmerer by the J.C. Penney Corporation. Coming in at 9.4 feet tall and around 4,000 pounds, the statue towered over almost everything in the Triangle.
Back in December 2020, the Kemmerer City Council was approached by the J.C. Penney Corporation about a donation to the city. The statue, along with a desk and many plaques, sat in the rotunda at the J.C. Penney headquarters in Plano, Texas. Because of bankruptcy and other circumstances, J.C. Penney had to move headquarters and the massive statue just couldn’t fit. The corporation offered to donate the statue to Kemmerer if they could take it as soon as possible. The council met and approved the donation as well as the cost of taking it down and storing it.
Since then, the council has been discussing ways to get the statue to Kemmerer. Council members, as well as City Administrator Brian Muir, discussed hiring a moving company, sending employees down to pick it up and much more during council meetings. Most of the concern was about cost. When the budget was created last year, it didn’t account for a spontaneous statue donation. The city asked for donations to help cover the costs and a few people helped out, according to Muir. One donor, according to Muir, donated in honor of his dad who worked for Penney when he was here in Kemmerer.
Suddenly, early in January, an offer came to the attention of the council. Vivianos Concrete, a local contractor, was in Texas doing business at that moment. They offered to bring the statue back up to Kemmerer with them. The Kemmerer City Council held a special meeting and approved up to $3,200 to pay for Vivianos Concrete to haul the statue and other donated items to Kemmerer.
“It saved us from going back and forth to Texas,” Muir said. “It really saved us a lot of money.”
The statue arrived in Kemmerer on Jan. 28, after it was already dark, so, they did a ceremonial re-entry into Kemmerer on Jan. 29, at 12 p.m. with the statue standing straight up and the desk displayed prominently. The procession was escorted by the police and sheriff’s office to the Golden Rule store, the J.C. Penney house — which it overshadowed — and the J.C. Penney Mother Store for photo opportunities. A large crowd that included Muir, Mayor Bill Thek and Councilperson Bill Price followed the statue along the Triangle until it went around the corner to be delivered to a secure building.
Currently, Kemmerer City Council is unsure of where the statue will be located but, according to Muir, it must be weatherized before being set-up outside.