ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Seventy-five Hokie Bird statues were placed around the region in 2006 through the Blacksburg Partnership Economic Development Group. These statues have been a target of theft and vandalism.
One particular theft happened back in September 2019 from the Hotel Roanoke. Three James Madison University students were charged with stealing and damaging the bird by leaving it on the side of the road. The story doesn’t end there as a pair of Virginia Tech alums did their part to keep the bird alive.
Virginia Tech alums Sherrie and Dennie Denison bleed maroon and orange. The Denisons had some strong feelings when they heard about what happened to the Hokie Bird at Hotel Roanoke nearly two years ago.
“We were sad of course, we were sad and we though why would anyone do that. That is a lot of trouble to break it off and haul it away. It is not small. You would have to have a big vehicle for it even to fit into. It was unfortunate,” said Sherrie and Dennie.
The damaged bird went into storage at the Hotel Roanoke. Dennie’s brother worked hard with the Hotel Roanoke to get Dennie and Sherrie the damaged bird for themselves to restore. The Denisons got some great news in December 2020 as they connected with getting the Hokie Bird.
“After sometime of negotiation and a new Hokie Bird being built, then checking with Blacksburg we got the news from the Hotel Roanoke management Byron Wells indeed we were going to be the new owners of the Hokie Bird,” said Dennie.
The Denisons are the only individuals to own a Hokie Bird since the rest are owned by businesses. When people come to their house, the bird is a topic for discussion.
“It is not something you suspect you are going to have. If you got Blacksburg as often as we do. We see them all over town and admire them. The other side is it is not small. We had to figure out yeah it is pretty exciting to have this opportunity but where are we going to put it. We didn’t want to put it somewhere where the grandkids are going to be running into it and that sort of thing,” said Sherrie.
The Denisons got the restored Hokie Bird back in April after a few months of restoration. They have the Hokie Bird statue in the back corner of their downstairs den.
The Denisons said it cost them $2,000 to refurbish the statue. They are excited about the season ahead for the Hokies and their statue.
Rather than facing felony charges for stealing the Hokie Bird, the three JMU students had to pay $8,500 to have a new one made for the Hotel Roanoke.
Local artist Kathy Duncan was responsible for making the statues.
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