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Oregon Pioneer statue turns 80 on Monday

As part of Capitol Foundation's Capitol History Gateway project, the public can celebrate the gilded sculpture's birthday with cupcakes, ornament decorating, a special tour and prizes for costumes.

COURTESY PHOTO - The Oregon Pioneer by Ulric Ellerhusen. The 22-foot gilded bronze sculpture stands atop the dome of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.SALEM — The Oregon Pioneer — the 22-foot gilded bronze sculpture of a nameless man atop the State Capitol — turns 80 on Monday.

State employees are throwing him a birthday bash from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, and debuting a new exhibit dedicated to the statue sculpted by Ulric Ellerhusen to represent the Oregon pioneer spirit.

COURTESY PHOTO - Soren Green of Keizer dresses like the Oregon Pioneer for Halloween.Festivities include free-of-charge cupcakes, decorating pioneer-themed ornaments for the U.S. Christmas tree (which will come from Oregon's Willamette National Forest) and prizes for those who dress up as the Oregon Pioneer.

Guest speakers will make speeches about the Oregon Pioneer around 3:30 p.m.

One speaker is Jenny Borden, an elementary teacher who was a third grader in 1983 when she toured the Capitol. She noticed the statue was dingy so she reached out to her state representative with a plan for schoolchildren to collect dimes to help pay to re-gild the Pioneer. The fundraiser garnered more than $46,000.

PARIS ACHEN/CAPITAL BUREAU - Oregon State Capitol in SalemA special tour to the top of the Capitol tower is set for 4 p.m.

The pioneer was commissioned in 1936, arrived in Salem Sept. 16 of that year and rose to his pedestal atop the statehouse Sept. 18.

For details, call Visitor Services at 503-986-1388 or visit the Capitol's website's events page.

The event is part of the Capitol History Gateway, a project of the Oregon State Capitol Foundation.