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MAC Productions Owners Named Bridge Organization Board Member Emeritus


The organization that operates the Purple People Bridge between Newport and Cincinnati named Mike Claypool as board member emeritus.

Claypool, owner and president of Covington-based MAC Productions, received the designation last week from the Newport Southbank Bridge Company, which operates the pedestrian bridge/

MAC Productions specializes in live event productions for national conferences and special events.

Claypool served Southbank Partners in the early 2000s as a member of the steering committee that helped make the pedestrian bridge a reality.

“No single person, either on the board of directors or affiliated with the Purple People Bridge, has done more for the good of the bridge than Mike Claypool,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners and the Newport Southbank Bridge Company.

“Mike has done more than simply serve on the board,” Moreland csaid. “He and his company have made repairs and improvements to the bridge at no cost to our organization. He has also made personal financial contributions to the bridge, such as helping to pay for and install the sound system that now operates there. His contributions have been tremendous to an organization that has very limited funding.”

The bridge originally opened on April 1, 1872, seven years after the end of the Civil War, as the first railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It was later widened by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to accommodate pedestrians, then streetcars, and finally automobiles.

In 2001, after the bridge had been closed to train and vehicular traffic, the Commonwealth of Kentucky gave its portion of the bridge to the City of Newport. After Southbank Partners received $4 million in state funding to paint and restore the bridge, the two entities created the Newport Southbank Bridge Company. CSX then donated the train portion of the bridge to Southbank Partners. The city and Southbank then transferred ownership of both bridges to the nonprofit organization.

Claypool recalled his first involvement working on the bridge project, as part of a group of local citizens convened by Southbank Partners to decide, among other things, what color the bridge should be painted.

“Ted Bushelman (former spokesperson for the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and Florence city councilman) had studied how people relate to colors, even writing his master’s thesis on ‘The Psychology of Color’ at Xavier University, and suggested that we paint it purple,” Claypool recalled. 

Citizen focus groups convened by Southbank Partners then looked at various colors for the bridge and agreed that they best liked the color of purple. Soon thereafter, the rusting bridge was painted a bright shade of purple and soon had a new moniker: “The Purple People Bridge.” 

Claypool said that he is not at all surprised that the bridge has become a popular destination in and an icon for the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky community.

“It’s amazing the amount of people who cross that bridge every year,” he said. “Not only is it a convenient connection for pedestrians, joggers, and bikers between two states, it’s also an important tool for promoting economic development and improving the quality of life in our region.”

Moreland said that Claypool was always quietly working “behind the scenes to make the bridge a success,” never taking credit for the work he did.

“At a time when many people ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’, it’s great to have people like Mike Claypool who give much, much more than they take. He’s one of the sincerest people that I’ve ever known. We’ve been very fortunate to have him serve on our board for the past thirteen  years, and he’s very deserving of the new title bestowed on him.”

-Staff report

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