Cat in the Hat statue unveiled on Peru State campus

Cat in the Hat statue unveiled on Peru State campus

March 6, 2019, 8:00 a.m. CDT
Contact Jason Hogue, Peru State College Marketing and Communications, 402-872-2429

Peru, Nebraska – As part of Peru State’s annual Dr. Seuss Birthday celebration, a new statue featuring the Cat in the Hat was unveiled and dedicated. February’s record snowfall moved the unveiling of the College’s latest work of art indoors, but eventually the classic storybook character will be placed in the new Sesquicentennial Plaza in front of the Performing Arts Center.

Members of the Peru State campus community, including many of the teachers and children on campus for Dr. Seuss’s birthday, gathered in the lobby of the newly remodeled Performing Arts Center. The statue was unveiled indoors and its accompanying plaque was on display.

A blue cloth is being removed from covering the statue.

Schoolchildren and their teachers watch as the statue is unveiled by the donors, Dr. Daryl and Peggy Long, and three of Peru State’s long-time Dr. Seuss performers. From left to right: Elaine Hanson, First Lady of Peru State College; Ted Harshbarger, Associate Athletic Director; Dr. Bill Clemente, faculty emeritus; Dr. Chet Harper, former theatre faculty; Dr. Daryl Long, faculty emeritus; Peggy Long; Dr. Dan Hanson, president of Peru State College; and Todd Simpson, CEO of the Peru State Foundation.

The bronze statue was donated by former long-time faculty member Dr. Daryl Long and his wife, Peggy. Dr. Long taught on the Peru State Campus for fifty years (January 1967 to January 2017) and is now faculty emeritus.

Dr. Long said that when he learned of the planned remodeling of the theatre, he toured the old facility and thought about the many activities and memories the place had held and made over the years.

“My favorite day of the school year was always Dr. Seuss’s birthday celebration and watching the visiting students. They have such joy and energy – if only we could bottle that up.”

Long went on to relate that he also loved watching Chet Harper, Bill Clemente and Ted Harshbarger perform for the children. That’s when he and Peggy set out to find a way to capture the memory and energy of the performances.

“We found the statue and I thought it was a great way to promote a love for reading in those visiting kids. What better way than to see that Cat come to life?”

Before the ceremony, Dr. Dan Hanson, president of Peru State College, said of the donation, “Thank you, Daryl and Peggy Long, for your generous gift that honors Peru State’s continuing tradition of engaging students and regional communities.”

Hanson adds, “Your gift recognizes the importance of reading and adds character to our beautiful and historic campus.”

The statue stands a little under four foot tall, with red accents for the hat and bowtie.

Dr. Bill Clemente, Dr. Daryl Long, Peggy Long, Dr. Chet Harper and Ted Harshbarger stand with the new statue. Clemente and Harshbarger are dressed to perform.

Peru State Foundation CEO, Todd Simpson, said, “Daryl and Peggy Long continue to find new ways of supporting educational efforts and our students.”

“Whether it’s sponsoring an etiquette and personal finance seminar for graduating seniors, matching first-time donor gifts to the general fund, or sponsoring artwork like the Cat in the Hat statue to promote reading, the Longs continue to support Peru State students in unique and innovative ways.”

A plaque on the statue will read, “The Performing Arts Center is home to an annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America week organized by the Peru Student Education Association. Elementary and preschool students from the surrounding vicinity attend this party. For years, a highlight was the performance of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham by faculty members Dr. Bill Clemente and Dr. Chet Harper.”

“This sculpture is placed here to delight young readers and to encourage people of all ages to spend more time reading.”

The statue is shown from the front - the statue shows the Cat with his eyes shut.

The Cat in the Hat statue.

The Cat in the Hat statue was enlarged from an original maquette inspired by Dr. Seuss’s character and created by artist Leo Rijn. The statue and maquette are part of the Dr. Seuss Bronze Tribute Collection.

The Longs also donated the “Power of Thought” statue located in the Jindra Fine Arts Building lobby. They commissioned the statue and asked the sculptor, Victor Issa, to include Peru State in its imagery, resulting in the inclusion of the College’s sesquicentennial seal. provides, “Artist Leo Rijn was selected as the inaugural sculptor for [The Bronze Tribute Collection] due to his prized work with some of today’s top talent in the world of film, entertainment and the visual arts (including work with Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg). Rijn has been identified as one of today’s brightest sculpting talents because of his ability to breathe life into the written word and successfully transform two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional works of art.”

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