CLEAR LAKE — Family members of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are expected to attend the dedication of Three Stars Plaza in Clear Lake on Thursday, Oct 13.
The plaza honors the memory of the three musicians who were killed along with pilot Roger Peterson in a plane crash north of the Mason City Municipal Airport on Feb. 3, 1959.
Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly; J.P. Richardson Jr., the son of The Big Bopper; and Connie Valens Lemos, the sister of Ritchie Valens; are expected to attend the ceremony, according to Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb.
The ceremony will include the honorary dedication of J.P. Richardson Avenue and Ritchie Valens Drive and a re-dedication of Buddy Holly Place.
Three Stars Plaza is located on North Shore Drive, about a half block west of the Surf Ballroom & Museum. The property was the site of Nelson’s Amoco.
Highlighting the park is an art feature. Its central column resembles a record spindle with three records stacked on top.
The bottom record has the names of the performers inscribed on it. It is illuminated in the same blue neon that encircles the plaza and the sides of the spindle.
The art feature was designed by RDG Planning and Design, based in Omaha, Neb., and Dahlquist Art Studio of Des Moines.
The art feature was paid for by Steve and Vickie Sukup of Clear Lake.
“(Without) their generosity and spirit of philanthropy, it is very unlikely that the art feature would have become a reality,” said Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory.
Sticking with the musical theme, the plaza’s brick pavers resemble a record with different-colored circles.
Ben Furleigh, a quality engineer for Sukup, served as Sukup’s project manager for project. He is also a Clear Lake councilman.
He said the feature took 500 man hours and 10 weeks to complete. Employee Brad Ufford of Dumont “did 90 percent of the fabrication,” Furleigh said.
“The best part of my day was coming in to work each day to see what Brad had done the day before,” he said.
Furleigh said the pedestal is 24 inches in diameter and made of one-quarter-inch steel pipe. It is 15 feet high and weighs 1,600 pounds.
The records that sit atop the “spindle” are 7-gauge stainless steel, 10 feet in diameter and weigh 3,900 pounds. BL Lighting of Vancouver provided the neon lighting and Allan Industrial Coating of Allison provided the black coating.
The structure was first lighted Wednesday, Furleigh said.
“It was really neat to see,” he said. “It was fun listening to the comments, watching the heads turn.”