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Plans for Slush Puppie Statue in Dayton Move Forward

A plan to honor a native of the city could land a life-size statue of Slush Puppie at the Dayton, Ky. riverfront.

The Dayton City Council last week offered a commitment to the project, spearheaded by resident Catherine Hamilton-Hicks, who previously worked to highlight Slush Puppie's connection to the city last fall.

"It makes Dayton special," Hicks said of the city where Slush Puppie founder Will Radcliff was born. "This is something no other River City would have, no one else in the country would have."

The idea is to erect a 6-ft. bronze statue of the iconic Slush Puppie mascot holding a Slush Puppie treat, which is an icy beverage with flavored syrup popularly purchased at convenience stores. The statue would be a highlight of Dayton's portion of Riverfront Commons, the 11-mile recreational trail that will eventually run from Ludlow in the west to Ft. Thomas in the east. Dayton is working on its plans for the riverfront, where million-dollar homes and market rate apartments are being constructed.

"The timing is good because we want to incorporate this into the design," Hicks said. 

The thing is, though, bronze statues as large as the one Hicks envisioned, cost a lot of money. So, she reached out to the family of Will Radcliff, who died in 2014. She made contact with his daughter, DeeAnn Radcliff.

"I was surprised about it," Radcliff told The River City News in an interview last month. "I didn't realize what a big deal my dad was until he passed away and then the NBC Nightly News and he's in newspapers around the world.

"And this woman," Radcliff said of Hicks, "has been trying to get ahold of me for over a year to do this thing to honor him in Dayton, Kentucky. It's pretty revealing as to who he was to the world."

Hicks, in her quest to find out how much such a project would cost, called the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and that led to conversation with industry folks. Ultimately, the Slush Puppie statue was estimated at $55,000. Hicks wants the City of Dayton to contribute $20,000. The Radcliff family has committed $4,000.

It would take about nine months to complete.

City council showed support for the project on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to start designing elements of our portion of the Riverfront Commons trail and the city certainly wants to explore ways we can pay homage to Dayton’s cool and unique history along this trail system,” said City Manager Michael Giffen.

The Slush Puppie brand has made the rounds in Dayton since the Radcliff connection was first explored last year. A Slush Puppie costume, which turned out to be one of the brand's originals, was purchased from eBay by Hicks and refurbished, and has appeared at the River Cities Relay, Kite Fest, and the rededication fo the Dayton History Museum, where it is stored.

The enthusiasm from Hicks is what motivated DeeAnn Radcliff to participate.

"This is the only thing I have agreed to contribute to," Radcliff said. "He would appreciate the kids today or the people who are kids at heart to visit that statue and create memories for them from their childhood, or look at it and smile at the joy because Slush Puppie was nothing until my dad came up with the whole image of it and the whole brand of it. He would think that was really neat."

Hicks said that she expects to launch a crowdsourcing campaign to raise some of the necessary funds. 

"People don't realize Slush Puppie came from Cincinnati," said Radcliffe, "and my dad was a very big Cincinnati fans and Northern Kentucky fan, and he considered himself a Kentucky guy. I just think that it's really neat that people will say it was started here by the man who walked these grounds."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

RCN contributor Carrie Crotzer contributed to this report