The class ring is a huge symbol of pride for Citadel graduates, and now their campus has a huge ring.
Workers Thursday used a crane to lower the new, 3,800-pound replica of The Citadel's iconic class ring into its new home on the edge of the school's parade ground. The military college will hold an official unveiling of the new statue at 10:30 a.m. today.
The 6-foot by 8-foot brass statue arrived just in time for today's ring ceremony for the Class of 2012, during which about 380 seniors will receive their class rings. Today also marks the start of Parents' Weekend.
Citadel senior Chip Morrison, who will receive his ring today, watched as workers prepared to lower the statue.
"It adds a lot of personality when you come through the gate," he said of the ring. And it could inspire cadets to graduate, he said. "It's a reminder of what you're looking forward to."
Gil Pohl, a 1976 graduate of the school and chairman of The Citadel Alumni Association's ring committee, said the statue's arrival is causing excitement on campus. "Once they see it, they fall in love with it," he said.
Finishing the ring on time was a challenge, said Clint Howard, owner of Deep in the Heart Art Foundry, which made the ring. The foundry is in Bastrop, Texas, which recently was ravaged by wildfires.
The fires forced the foundry to close for two weeks, Howard said, and work on the ring fell behind schedule. But after employees were able to return to work, they worked on the ring 24 hours a day for 14 days. They completed it just in time, he said.
The new statue, which is 90 times the size of the actual class ring, now sits just inside the school's main gate. Fourteen other monuments and more than 50 memorial benches and markers also circle the college's parade ground.
The statue is a gift to The Citadel Alumni Association from the South Carolina division of Palmetto Balfour, a national class ring manufacturer.
Jason Cline, a 1993 graduate of The Citadel, owns Palmetto Balfour, which is the official provider of Citadel class rings.