A new sculpture is swimming into view in Summerville.  

The townís eighteenth sculpture, ìFree Ride,î will be installed in Shepard Park this weekend.

Once installed in the park, ìFree Rideî will appear as a life-size hippo protruding above the surface of the pond, with a bird perched on the hippoís backside.  The bird is a Purple Gallinule, native to both the southeast U.S. and to southern Africa.  Shepard Park, located at the intersection of Parkwood Drive and Simmons Avenue, includes a small tot lot, gazebo, and a walking trail with a small bridge crossing the pond.  ìFree Rideî will be visible throughout the park and by joggers and drivers on Parkwood.

The installation dedication will take place at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 2, in Shepard Park.

"Free Ride" is the creation of artist Paul Rhymer, who became a sculptor through his work as a taxidermist and model maker at the Smithsonian Institutionís National Museum of Natural History.  Rhymer has participated since 2002 at the annual Sculpture in the South show in Azalea Park.  The next Exhibit and Sale will take place on May 17 and 18.

Although ìFree Rideî will be dedicated on March 2, permanent installation will not be completed until warmer weather allows for underwater work in the pond.  Rhymer and Summerville Parks Director Mike Hinson are collaborating on a design for the mounting.  

The mechanism will permit the sculpture to adjust to the natural variations in the depth of the water, so that the hippoís back will always appear to be inches above the pondís surface.

ìFree Rideî is the gift of Mr. and Mrs. James J. Reaves, Jr., long-time Summerville community supporters.

 ìAntonio,î by Wayne Salge, was originally slated as Summervilleís eighteenth sculpture, but it has been bumped to nineteenth, pending cross-country delivery from Colorado in May.  

Each bronze sculpture in The Summerville Collection has been purchased through private donations, grants and proceeds from the annual Exhibit and Sale.