With his arm outstretched, the newly cleaned Mingo Indian statue is now bright and shiny, welcoming everyone who comes his way.
The 84-year-old statue was rededicated Wednesday by the Kiwanis Club of Wheeling, city and county officials, members of the public and other dignitaries during a ceremony atop Wheeling Hill.
Decades' worth of dirt and crusty grime were removed by Everett Carmichael of Glen Dale, thanks to the Kiwanis' $10,000 fundraising effort. The statue originally was erected by the club and handed over to the city in 1928 - that was the first dedication ceremony. In 1983, a trio of men tried to steal the statue by cutting it off its base. After it was recovered by police and repaired by a welder, George S. Macek, the statue was dedicated for a second time.
Macek, who died in 2010 at age 89, worked for Mull Machine when he repaired the statue. It was his last project before his retirement. Macek's son, Geo Macek of Elm Grove, said his father enjoyed repairing the statue and would have enjoyed seeing it restored again. Geo Macek said he was 30 years old when his father fixed the Mingo.
''He was also a metallurgist. He was a smart man - he spoke seven different languages,'' Macek said. ''They called him the 'doctor of welding' because he knew anything about welding.''
During the ceremony, a section of road was closed to traffic to allow people to safely see the unveiling.
''We're here for the rededication of one of Wheeling's most iconic symbols,'' said Ohio County Magistrate Joe Roxby.
City Manager Robert Herron thanked the Kiwanis Club for getting the statue restored to its former glory.
''Their efforts to redo the statue will be appreciated now and for years to come,'' Herron said.
Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick noted the statue is a proud part of Wheeling's history.
''Welcome back Mingo,'' McCormick said.
After the ceremony, Wheeling historian Margaret Brennan said she also was happy to see the statue cleaned up.
''They brought back the beauty of one of Wheeling's most historic statues,'' she said.
A statement from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also was read by spokesman Ted Anderson.
The statue originally was manufactured by American Bronze of Chicago. In addition to many donations from the public, the restoration was funded by $5,000 donated by the Elizabeth Stifel Kline Foundation, $1,000 from the city of Wheeling and $1,000 from the Ohio County Commission.