Lady Liberty looms in Georgia town

Q: Isn’t there a replica of the Statue of Liberty somewhere in south Georgia? If there is, where is it and what kind of details can you provide?

A: Folks driving through McRae-Helena invariably stomp their brakes at the intersection of U.S. 341 and 441.

Out come the smart phones. Click, click, click.

Their selfies and shots quickly are texted to friends or posted on Facebook and Instagram accounts.

What’s the big deal?

Doesn’t everybody expect to see a light green, 35-foot tall, homemade replica of the Statue of Liberty in the middle of a rural Georgia town?

“There’s always people posing in front of it,” said Paula Rogers Anderson, president of the Telfair County Chamber of Commerce.

This Statue of Liberty is well known around that area of the state, but comes as a surprise to many of the people passing through McRae-Helena on their way to the coast (two hours to the east) of Florida.

The neighboring cities of McRae and Helena consolidated last year to form McRae-Helena, which is about 80 miles southeast of Macon.

Anderson has answered plenty of questions about the little Lady Liberty as she’s traveled to other towns on business.

“They always ask, ‘Y’all have the Statue of Liberty, don’t you?’ ” she said.

The replica turned 30 years old this year, which makes it 100 years younger than its inspiration in New York Harbor.

Anderson said the local Lions Club wanted to do something to mark the real Statue of Liberty’s centennial celebration in 1986, so its members decided to build a replica.

There was a problem. There wasn’t much money, which led to creative shortcuts.

Rogers Anderson provided a few of the unique details.

One of the arms is Styrofoam, the torch was made from an electrical lineman’s glove and another part of the statue was crafted from a stump. Detail work was done with a chainsaw.

“They threw on a coat of green paint and there you had it,” Rogers Anderson said.

Both her torch and crown light up and she stands in the town’s Liberty Square, which includes a bell redone to look like the Liberty Bell and a memorial to residents who died in battle.

“The city of McRae-Helena and Telfair County have a lot of pride and respect for the Statue of Liberty and what it stands for,” Anderson said.

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