County firm leads quest for Kalas statue

DAILY LOCAL NEWS
By BRIAN McCULLOUGH, Staff Writer

EAST PIKELAND — Hard to believe, Harry.

Phoenixville-based Virtual Farm Creative Inc. is leading a grassroots campaign that seeks to memorialize last Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

Phoenixville-based Virtual Farm Creative Inc. is leading a grassroots campaign that seeks to memorialize Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

Well, maybe not.

A Phoenixville-area advertising agency is stepping to the plate to lead a grassroots campaign that seeks memorialize the late, beloved broadcaster of the Philadelphia Phillies, Harry Kalas.

Kalas’ rich baritone voice fell silent on April 13, only a few games into a 2009 season that followed the team’s second championship in its 126-year history.

“This year just wasn’t the same,” lamented Todd Palmer, 44, of East Vincent, whose Virtual Farm Creative Inc. is donating promotional support for the effort.

Palmer teamed with his college roommate, sculptor Lawrence Nowlan, and two others to start Dear Harry Inc., a nonprofit group that’s raising funds for a Nowlan-created statue of Kalas.

So far, the group has raised $15,000 on its Web site, www.harrykalasstatue.com, Palmer said, adding that Nowlan plans to make several promotional appearances in the area later this week to drum up support.

The sculptor, a Philadelphia native with a studio in Windsor, Vt., is “a huge Phillies fan” and experienced in creating memorial sculptures.

Most recently the artist created a heroically sized action scene of Nile Kinnick for the University of Iowa, a larger-than-life Ralph Cramden installed in New York City’s Port Authority, and a series of intricately detailed sculptures commemorating winemakers at the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.

“No artist is more fitting for this task,” said Suzanne Norris, a Paoli resident who first encouraged Nowlan to take up challenge of not just sculpting the Kalas statue, but also building the support to secure enough financing.

Originally sparked by response to a Facebook petition that now includes more than 20,000 signatures, Dear Harry Inc. is depending on the many thousands of Kalas fans to take the statue to the next phase.

“Harry gave a lot to the fans of Philadelphia,” Nowlan said. “We want to give something back.”

The vision is to raise enough money — as much as $80,000 — to fund the development of an original and permanent, 7-foot-tall bronze likeness of Kalas.

The group has had no official contact with the Phillies but believes the team is supportive of its efforts to have the statue placed outside of Citizens Bank Park, Palmer said.

“It’s meant to be a gift to the Phillies,” he said. “We will give it to them and they will decide where it goes.”

The group hopes for a rally in donations as its nonprofit status becomes official.

“We’ve raised more than $15,000 in online and in-kind donations,” said Greg Veith, a Norristown attorney and counsel for the group. “Our applications are still being processed, but once Dear Harry Inc. is an official 501(c)(3), many corporate contributions can be secured as can matching gifts from their employees. We’re expecting a surge when we become official.”

The effort has the support of Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who is autographing bats and balls for large donations, and Richie Ashburn Jr., son of Kalas’ longtime broadcast partner and Phillies great, Richie Ashburn.

Should the group be successful in raising more than its goal, Ashburn would be included in the sculpture, according to Palmer, who said hearing the duo reminded him that it was summer — “a relaxing time.”

To contact business editor Brian McCullough, send an e-mail to business@dailylocal.com.


Reposted from the Daily Local News, 010510

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