Hurricane delays MLK memorial dedication, but St. Paulites still celebrating with Chinese sculptor

Nasty weather associated with Hurricane Irene has led to the postponement of this weekend’s formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. Officials plan to reschedule it, probably for October.

Christine Podas-Larson, president of Public Art St. Paul, is already there, though, as a special guest for the ceremony thanks to St. Paul’s role in connecting memorial officials with Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin.

Podas-Larson said today that she’s says she’s disappointed with the delay, “but you can’t argue with Mother Nature.” She and husband Kent Larson still plan to have dinner tonight with Lei and Ed Jackson, executive architect of the memorial. “We’ll all hold hands and celebrate,” she said.

Workers on the National Mall have to take down rows of seats and signs that had already been set up for the now-postponed weekend activities surrounding the dedication, she said.

And while walking around the memorial site — which is even larger and more impressive than she’d imagined — Podas-Larson overheard a National Parks Service worker (“with a Smokey Bear hat”) explaining to a tourist group how the memorial statue came to have a Chinese sculptor. He told them that they’d found Lei at a sculpting symposium in St. Paul.

Hearing that, she was very gratified.

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