Shining bright: Return of Herky on Parade announced in diamond-studded reveal

Written by
Miranda Bradberry
Published on
September 5, 2023
Written by
Miranda Bradberry
Published on
September 5, 2023

Ryan Hansen — Iowa City Press-Citizen

Herky has a new outfit for his 75th birthday and it’s a gem.

In the newest statue, revealed to hundreds at FRYfest on Friday night, the iconic Iowa mascot is decorated with more than 120,000 gems, topped off with one full-carat diamond.

The sparkling reveal Friday night at the Coralville Hyatt on the Iowa River Landing was accompanied by the return of Herky on Parade, which be unveiled in 2024, 20 years after the original parade. The special announcement also included a new pose for the third edition.

Jim and April Kelly of Coralville helped design and decorate “Diamond Jubilee Herky,” while downtown jeweler MC Ginsburg provided the diamond.

The Kellys helped design one of the 83 Herkys scattered around Iowa City and Coralville for the last Herky on Parade nearly 10 years ago. Their design, Herky of the Corn, paid homage to the 1984 film “Children of the Corn.”

A new pose for a new generation of Herky

The third edition statues will hold their right fist up high, “ready to charge,” a release said.

Think Iowa City and the University of Iowa helped commission the new, diamond-studded Herky.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since we first ‘took to the streets’ with Herky on Parade in 2004,” Think Iowa City president Josh Schamberger said in a statement on Friday. “In 2014, Herky the mascot got a new makeover which we celebrated with the rollout of Herky on Parade 2.0. I recall several of us joking about how we’d be too old to do this again on a 20th anniversary.

Well, here it is 10 years later, and we’re energized and excited to do it all over again. It coincides perfectly with Herky’s 75th birthday celebrations.”

Dozens of area mascots also attended Friday’s reveal, helping Herky celebrate his 75th birthday, sometimes called the “diamond” birthday. Seventy-five, 6-foot Herky statues designed by artists will be scattered in public spaces throughout the Iowa City and Coralville corridor, helping commemorate the mascot’s milestone.

As before, businesses can sponsor Herky statues, helping raise their business profile as eager participants.

“What a wonderful opportunity to continue the celebration of Herky’s 75th birthday,” interim athletic director Beth Goetz said in a statement. “Herky on Parade brings our communities together and creates so much enthusiasm from our fans. We appreciate the partnership with Think Iowa City and are excited to see the statues next spring.”

Additional details will be released in the coming months by Think Iowa City, including sponsorship notes, statue designs and locations.
The statues will start to appear in late spring and stay in place through the summer of 2024.


Ryan Hansen covers local government and crime for the Press-Citizen. He can be reached or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @ryanhansen01.

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