(May 1, 2015) Siteless, fundless and in pieces, the memorial statue honoring local surfer Michael Chester, who died nearly 25 years ago from cancer at the age of 21, still exists and is ready to be shipped to the shore, according to Martin Furst.
Furst began the effort to memorialize his friend in 1991 by holding fundraisers and events to support the creation of the statue by artist Edmund Shumpert. Shumpert is probably best known for the Huntington Beach statue known colloquially as the “nude dude.” The statue of Chester, of which a prototype exists and has been shown on several occasions, is similarly in the buff and strikes a more celebratory pose.
The actual statue, Furst said, is still in Shumpert’s possession and requires more money to deliver it to the shore. Measuring 13 feet tall, the anatomically correct and proportional statue was granted permission to be placed at the foot of the Route 90 bridge where the ‘Dance of the Dolphins’ statue was placed two weeks ago, provided the sculptor added a pair of shorts.
“It was never about just the statue,” Furst said, “it was also about helping the community.”
Furst said he used the funds gathered partly to pay for the statue, but also to donate to local churches and causes.
“The blame is on me for not having the statue. I feel like it has taken too long,” Furst said.
As for that Route 90 corner site, the mayor and council gave the Ocean City Development Corporation permission to use it for the dolphin statue, which is a part of its public arts program.
“Most of the mayor and council knew about [the memorial statue],” Councilmember Dennis Dare said, “but that permission was granted a number of years ago. None of the goals were ever accomplished, the statue was never brought to Ocean City. For all intents and purposes it appeared to be an abandoned project.”