A mystery has haunted some of the residents in North Ridgeville — what happened to the Ranger Rider at the Middle School stadium? Now, they have an answer.
The Ranger Rider has been gone since before demolition began, according to Superintendent Jim Powell, as it was vandalized in November. While the horse has been damaged before, it won’t be making a return to the district’s stadium this time.
“We don’t know who did it but someone broke into the stadium before starting the demolition process,” he said. “We were going to take (the statue) over to storage, but we didn’t get it moved in time and someone must have had a saw or something and cut it apart. We found parts of it over at St. Peter’s.”
Director of Operations Matt Yunker said the district received a phone call from the police the morning after someone damaged it, alerting them to the statue’s condition.
“We had received a phone call from the Police Department,” he said. “When the vandalism took place … the horse was shattered into a bunch of pieces, a lot of those pieces for whatever reason ended up on the property of St. Peter’s Church … Our maintenance personnel went over there and removed all the items from St. Peter’s property. It was beyond repair … It was vandalized almost beyond recognition.”
Before the incident, the horse’s home in the district had come into question. It was originally offered to the city’s historical society, but was turned down due to its size. Peggy Poe, a retired teacher had taken a photo of the horse and posted it on Facebook, asking if it would be moved to the new stadium. When she found there were no concrete plans to relocate the rider, she started an online petition to save it.
“I did go to petitions.com and a lot of people signed on,” she said. “And then I heard from Jim Powell that I should have come to him first rather than starting the petition and did I know how expensive maintaining the horse was. I said yes, I had some idea – that it had go to a special place the last time it was vandalized … where they had to fix it and repair it and it was very expensive but that they were hoping to find a home for the horse.”
She said about a month ago she noticed the horse was gone and figured they’d found a home for it. She later heard it had been vandalized again and was put in storage, but was unaware of the extent of the damage.
“A lot of people are very sentimental about it, but I don’t know that anybody would start a GoFundMe page to repair it and again, where do you put it?” she said. “It’s a mascot.”
Powell said before the incident, the statue’s home had been narrowed down to a corner of the stadium or behind the high school. He said he was especially disappointed that the Rider was damaged because there had been plans with South of the Square Collision Center, 7385 Race Road, to recondition the statue for free. Now, the horse is reportedly beyond repair, with its legs and head cut off and torso torn up.
According to Yunker, there have been some preliminary conversations about the horse — as the district understands residents are sentimental toward it — but no final decisions have been made.
“There are a lot of new beginnings here with the new building and a lot of firsts for everything and I think we’ve got a lot of new components to the new building that still make this unique to North Ridgeville, so there haven’t been any further conversations about if a rededication is in order or recreation of the statue,” Yunker said.
Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.