Former Aurora Mayor, Al McCoy, and former city treasurer, Jerry Morrow, autographing Andy placards at the Tanner House on the Fourth of July. Morrow created the character Andy as a promotion for the city, and McCoy was mayor during Andy's heyday.
Updated: March 5, 2013 6:09AM
After spending decades in a file drawer, Andy Aurora has been on the move. The whimsical carton cartoon character woven into a large letter A who claims “I’m from Aurora and proud of it” was pulled out of retirement by the Aurora Historical Society as part of Aurora’s 175th anniversary celebration. Aurora residents were invited to carry Aurora with them and send in photographs of his journey.
At a Friday evening AHS event, a video entitled “Andy Aurora’s Excellent Year” was premiered showing just where in the world Andy Aurora had been. Using 190 submitted photos from 100 people, the 3 minute, 8 second video shows Andy Aurora buried in the sand on an exotic beach, being chummy with the Disney character, Goofy, joy riding in a model T, teetering over the San Andreas fault, smiling at a family reunion and in many other interesting locations both here and abroad.
Background music for the video is “Proud to Be an Aurora Boy” written and performed by Aurora native Bradley Keven Green. The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5LY00GiQCY.
Mary Clark Ormand, president of the Aurora Historical Society Board of Trustees says “Andy has really been well received.” The historical society has been selling t-shirts, postcards and window clings featuring the historical image. She also reports that area schools have become involved.
Diana Wilkie, a kindergarten teacher at Hermes Elementary School, supplied her students with Andy Aurora postcards and encouraged them to take them around the city. Part of the project was to compare historic photos of Aurora to present day photos and write about the changes.
The AHS event at the Aurora Country Club was to honor volunteers who have worked on the 175th anniversary as well as other AHS events through the years. The annual volunteer of the year was awarded to Evelyn Rachmyer who has been with the historical society since 1984. She has spent many hours running the museum store and has served as a docent at the Tanner House. Bradley Keven Green was also recognized for writing several Aurora themed songs for his album “Songs for Aurora”. He is releasing a second album entitled “Blues for Aurora” in March. The AHS is featuring his music and other blues musicians at their spring fundraiser, Reds, Whites and Blues. The event will be held at the Two Brothers Roundhouse on March 21 and feature a mixture of history, blues, food and drink. Details can be found at the website aurorahistory.net.
Andy Aurora was originally created in 1964 by then city treasurer Jerry Morrow and Beacon News staff artist John Jarvis as part of a plan to boost city pride. Aurora had just suffered through a rough time and was emerging from municipal bankruptcy. Morrow needed to regain the trust of the taxpayers and hoped that the positive campaign would help achieve this goal. The image appeared on many official city documents and 47,000 decals were distributed to residents who were encouraged to proudly display the logo where ever they went. The residents embraced Andy Aurora and he was sighted on numerous station wagon bumpers as well as in Russia.
When planning the 175th anniversary, AHS curator Jennifer Putzier recalled the image that was buried in a file cabinet. The image had been given to the Chamber of Commerce who in turn, had donated it to the Aurora Historical Society in 2005. “I thought of the bright colors, the kitschy-ness of it and the fact that some people might even remember it,” says Putzier who pulled Andy Aurora out of the file cabinet and sent him back to work. “Andy is traveling and once again bringing awareness and solidarity to Aurora. It has really been a success.”