Dayton KY to commemorate native Slush Puppie founder with custom sculpture

Community organizers have hired local sculptor John Hebenstreit to create a six-foot bronze sculpture of the iconic Slush Puppie mascot, whose creator, the late Will Radcliff, hailed from Dayton, Ky.
The artwork will be displayed on the new 11-mile Riverfront Commons walking and biking trail that will connect all six Northern Kentucky waterfront communities. The sculpture will take about nine months to complete and carry a price tag of $55,000. Organizers have secured private funding and hope to gain further financial support from the Slush Puppie corporation, City of Dayton and other sources.
“Based on the unanimous support of all six council members at last month's meeting, I am optimistic that this is a project that ultimately through fundraising grants and donations will become a beloved hallmark on the riverfront,” says Catherine Hamilton, whose nonprofit NKY First is heading up the project.
Slush Puppie made his debut at last summer's River Cities Relay before attending the NKY Kite Festival in October. Last month, the furry mascot co-hosted a rededication ceremony for the Dayton Heritage Museum.
“The goal of creating a permanent tribute to founder Will Radcliff is twofold,” Hamilton says. “It first will capture the story of a kind and brilliant man who had a tremendous work ethic, as well as generous nature, and was a true role model for the community.”
Secondly, Hamilton says, the statue will signify to Riverfront Commons pedestrians that they’re entering Dayton, a welcoming gesture she feels “can reverberate for a great many miles and years.”
Hamilton plans to work with downtown architectural firm KZF, which is designing the Riverfront Commons project, to customize a Dayton segment that will prominently feature the new statue.

“Will everyone get it or appreciate the statue immediately? Of course not,” Hamilton says. “But I look forward to the day when a traveler from Greater Cincinnati stumbles across a Slush Puppie in the United Kingdom or South Africa and claims kinship with this sweet, icy beverage that now will have its forever home in Dayton.”
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Hannah Purnell is a lifelong Northern Kentuckian who writes extensively about regional issues related to arts and culture, politics and economic development.