Skip to comments.Fremont Merchants Plan to Light up Lenin This Season
Posted on 11/26/2004 11:23:48 AM PST by Publius
In downtown Seattle, they light a big Christmas tree for the holidays.
But in Fremont, they're going to light up -- what else? -- the big statue of Vladimir Lenin.
Lenin will be lighted at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 at the corner of Fremont Place North and North 36th Street. (It's the intersection with the big statue of Lenin.) The monument will be bedecked with garland and lights -- and probably not just red ones.
It will be the first time the 18-foot bronze statue has been lighted since it came to the Center of the Universe in 1995 by way of Slovakia and Issaquah.
As the story goes, a sculptor named Emil Venkov was commissioned to build the statue by the Czech Communist Party. But when the regime fell, so did the statue. It lay in a dump until an Issaquah man teaching in Poland happened upon it. Struck by it, he mortgaged his home in Issaquah and had the statue shipped from the East Bloc to the Eastside. It sat in a pasture behind his house until the Fremont Chamber of Commerce agreed to take it.
This week the Seattle Post-Intelligencer spoke with Corky Merwin, 48, one of the Fremont chamber members who came up with the idea to light up the old Bolshevik.
Merwin recently opened the Postmark Gelato shop behind the statue in "Lenin Square," but she already seems like a native in this eccentric neighborhood. The walls of her shop are filled with her collection of postcards and a bronze-colored ice cream cone more than a foot long.
"We put it out there in Lenin's hand sometimes," she said.
Merwin, who moved here from Vashon Island (which has its own share of characters), said her friends worried about her living in the big city. "But then when they heard I was going to Fremont, they said, 'Oh, she'll fit right in there.'"
How did the Lenin-lighting idea come up?
A bunch of us were sitting around talking at the Fremont Chamber (of Commerce) about what we could do to celebrate all the things that have happened at Lenin Square. Not only did our store move in, but we redid the tiling around the edges of the plaza (where the Lenin statue stands). No one used it as a plaza before. I also think it's an interesting time to honor a controversial head of state.
Does Lenin get any visitors?
People from all around the world, from Russia and England, come by. They're aghast to see it here.
Some people complained about the statue when it went up because they thought it took his regime's repression lightly. Do you still get complaints?
One guy came in and started yelling at my people, like it was their fault.
Do you think using him in a lighting ceremony makes more light of Lenin and his regime?
I don't think putting lights and garland on him is honoring him.
What's with all these postcards in your store?
It's been a passion of mine since I was a child. I love to travel and I love to write. ... We got this postcard someone sent us. They were traveling in Russia and somehow she heard about us and sent us this postcard.
How else have you used the Lenin in front of your store?
I wanted to watch the (presidential) debate, so I brought a little television to the store and I put a notice on craigslist.com, "Come watch the debate in the shadow of Lenin." It was great. About 40 people showed up. Where else in the United States could you do that?
How do you think Lenin would feel about being all lit up?
I don't know. He didn't sound like a guy with a great sense of humor. I think Trotsky probably would have had more fun with it.
What do you think of Lenin?
I studied him in college and so my feelings are mixed. ... This is embarrassing. Maybe I used to drive too fast through Fremont. But for as political as I am, I'm embarrassed to say that I always thought it was a statue of Ivar (as in clam chowder). He has this cap on and he's looking toward Ballard. If you think about it, that makes so much more sense than (there being a statue for) a Russian dictator in Fremont.
They haven't responded yet.
For all its faults, at least NYC has never put up a statue of Lenin.
"When Saddam Hussein was toppled, I suggested in a letter to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce that they pick up a statue of Saddam on the cheap, put it next to Lenin and create a matched set."
Comes the (Conservative) Revolution will come many changes, comrade!
Remember that April Fools day when Chris Buckley reported the Russians were sending Lenin's body on a world tour to raise hard cash? What a gas!
Blue Staters. What a bunch of idiots.
Hey... I object... they promised me they would put up a statue of GeekDejure !!! ;-))
It's like a collection of trophies or a series of deer and moose heads displayed in the den.
But in Fremont, they're going to light up -- what else? --
...a big doobie?
I guess I shouldn't implicate the whole state of Warshington. Just the blue county-ites.
Hillary and Chuckie or Osama Mamma and CantSpell, you make the call...
On another note, I am I alone in thinking that Fremont is the most overrated neighborhood in Seattle?
I agree. At first "Che'" T-shrts bothered me until I talked to a moron wearing one. I found that Che` was in appropriate company. Lenin's statue is appropriately collecting bird guano.
are they finally coming out of the woodwork?
(such brilliant, superior, intellectual giants)
Nothing about this amuses me.
Doesn't the city of Fremont need a public urinal? That statue would serve admirably.
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