'Spirit of St. Louis" to Land at Avon Lake's Miller Road Park

Photo courtesy Heritage Avon Lake:

Avon Lake resident Nick Zangas, 16, looking over some wood he is cutting into the shape of "The Spirit of St. Louis" airplane for a replica of an old weather vane that used to hang in front of the T. Kekic gas station on Lake Road.

AVON LAKE - A replica of an old weather vane that was a landmark on Lake Road is headed for Miller Road Park.

Nick Zangas, 16, of Avon Lake is adding the finishing touches to the iconic landmark that paid tribute to pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. The St. Edward High School junior is doing the work for his Eagle Scout project in partnership with Heritage Avon Lake, the city's historical society.

City officials are right there behind him, supporting Nick’s efforts. Council recently approved allowing the new 10-foot-long and 2-foot-tall airplane sign made of wood and covered in sheet metal to be placed at the lakefront park, 33760 Lake Road. Council’s approval came amid concerns that the park may undergo more development under the city's recently approved comprehensive land-use plan, causing the weather vane to get lost in the shuffle of the park's other features and events.

The original weather vane — a small-scale version of "The Spirit of St. Louis" — was one of 145 produced by the Coca-Cola Co. as an advertising gimmick for the Cleveland-based Canfield Oil Co.'s gas stations after Lindbergh's flight. The sign stood in front of the station near the Bay Village border for about 70 years. It had a propeller and turned in the wind, but the weather vane disappeared in the early 1990s about the time the station closed. The station was torn down in the mid 1990s. A house is on the property now, which is why the weather vane will be placed in the park.

It probably will be dedicated next spring.

"I wanted to do something that would leave an important or lasting mark on Avon Lake," said Nick, a member of Boy Scout Troop 338 in Avon Lake. "The people I have talked to about the sign have deep memories of it and I'm excited to bring it back."

Council member Eileen Campo, who cast the lone no vote, said the sign might be overlooked at the park.

Nick and HAL President Tony Tomanek explained that a boulder will be placed near it with a plaque telling the sign's story. That put to rest concerns raised by council member Zach Arnold, who thought people wouldn’t know what it was.

"A lot of people remember seeing that sign when they drove along Lake Road for many years," Tomanek said. "It will be neat to see it again."

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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