The Distelfink statue (spelled on the plaque using the Dutchified English spelling of "Distlefink") is a popular target of visitors' cameras at the Berks County Heritage Center along the Tulpehocken Creek. It is also the site of the founding of Distelfink Sippschaft, so it is sort of our mascot.
Over the years, the paint on the statue has become worn. We reached out to the Heritage Center a few years ago, but it is in this year that solid efforts have begun to restore the beauty to this representation of the symbol of the very soul of the Deitsch folk.
I'd heard a rumor (that turned out to be true) that hex sign craftsman, Eric Claypoole, and Deitsch artist, Rachel Yoder would be repainting the statue. Eric confirmed that there was a plan to do this, and provided me with the name of his contact at the Center, Cathy Wegener.
Cathy and I spoke at length about the statue. She and I share the same zeal for it, and she asked whether some of us would be willing to help the process by washing the old dirt off of the statue to prepare it for repainting.
This was a great honor, and I accepted the offer eagerly. Many Urglaawer, both in Pennsylvania and in the Diaspora, offered to help in one way or another.
On the day of the washing (Sunday, October 2), the weather was dreary and dismal, which, along with the need to go into work, prevented several of our folks from making the trip to the park. Among the group were Jeni Jumper and her awesome daughters, Bea and Celia.
However, a few of us did get there, and we had a great time washing the statue (of course, I soaked myself during the rinsing phase). We also had opportunities to talk to patrons of the concurrent Berks County Heritage Festival, which also, unfortunately, had a lower attendance rate than usual due to the weather.
The rain, though, held out for us until we were done with the washing and the placement of offerings. Bea and I planted twelve chrysanthemum plants around the Distelfink. The plants were funded, in large part, by donations from Urglaawer in the Diaspora. These flowers were wonderful gifts.
Celia and Bea chose some gourds, squash, and pumpkins to go onto the statue as offerings, and Bea placed a sprig of chrysanthemum on the Distelfink's beak so it could "build a nest."
The Distelfink is now ready for repainting, and we had a wonderful experience as a group.