PALMDALE – A life-sized bronze statue of Palmdale’s first mayor, Larry Chimbole, was unveiled Thursday in Poncitlán Square by a grassroots group of Antelope Valley residents called the Local Legends Committee, after an 18-monthlong campaign of raising funds and engaging local craftsmen for the project.
More than 200 people witnessed the unveiling of the statue entitled “The First Mayor” which depicts Chimbole seated on a bench with one arm resting atop the back of the bench to encourage visitors to sit and visit with a “local legend.”
One of the 50 Grand Men who helped incorporate the city of Palmdale, Chimbole also served in World War II, was the city’s first mayor and represented the Antelope Valley as a State Assemblyman. He turned 96 this year and is still involved in community activities.
Funding for the statue came from donations of family, friends and citizens. The Local Legends Committee put on a variety show-style birthday party in May of 2014 to celebrate Chimbole’s 95th birthday, and raise funds for the statue. Additional funds were raised through the “Fifty Grand Friends” campaign, a takeoff on the original Fifty Grand Men who each donated $1,000 to help incorporate the city of Palmdale in 1962.
At the ceremony, which was emceed by Local Legends Committee member Stacia Nemeth, an additional $1,000 donation was made by Rob Duchow on behalf of the Southern California Gas Company.
“The First Mayor” statue also had much local flavor in its creation. Antelope Valley resident and artist David Arroyo sketched the concept drawing, sculptor Michael DeMedina created the statue, steel fabricator Tony Murachanian created the steel bench upon which the statue sits, and powder coater John Perez colored the bench green to match the existing color-theme of Poncitlán Square. Palmdale Public Works employees assisted in placing the statue.
The Local Legend Committee members include Nemeth, Chris Spicher, Judy Cooperberg, former Palmdale City Manager Dave Childs (who envisioned the “Fifty Grand Friends” campaign), Sandy Corrales-Eneix, Patricia Shaw, Vicki Medina, Dayle DeBry, Ingrid Chapman and Anne Ambrose. The Committee’s goal is to create a series of statues entitled “Local Legends,” which will honor many of Palmdale’s movers and shakers with public art pieces.
The cost to create the statue was more than $40,000. The fundraising efforts fell slightly short, with the Palmdale Community Foundation temporarily covering the difference. The committee is still accepting tax-deductible donations through the Palmdale Community Foundation website here (select Larry Chimbole Statue) or on GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/sk3phvtg.
The Palmdale Community Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 established in 1997 by the Palmdale City Council to allow donations to be made for city programs.
For more information about the Local Legends, contact Stacia Nemeth at 661-810-4007.
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]