The Kaukauna Galloping Ghost statue in front of Kaukauna Area High School. KCN photo.

KAUKAUNA — The controversial Galloping Ghost statue will likely remain in front of Kaukauna High School, but the sign intended to explain its history will cost less than originally proposed.

At a meeting Monday of the Kaukauna Area School District Board of Education, board members sent the administration back to the drawing board to find an alternative to the proposed project that would have included two signs at a total cost of $52,000.

The board said the cost of any signage should not exceed $25,000, according to WFRV TV.

The statue has been at the heart of a brewing controversy after a group of students expressed concern that the statue looks like a hooded Ku Klux Klansman and gives the wrong impression to visitors about the values of the district.

The students never asked the school board to drop the mascot, but to move the statue from the front of the school.

In response to the students’ concerns, the district in March proposed three options:

  • Maintain the presence of the statue as is
  • Maintain the statue and enhance it with signage
  • Relocate the statue away from the front entrance of the high school

The district is moving forward on the option to add signage.

The statue represents the school mascot and there are two possible origins, but most likely the name comes from football star Red Grange of the early 1900s who was known as the Galloping Ghost, according to a history from the Kaukauna Public Library.

But its similarity in appearance to a hooded Klansman has always followed the mascot.

When the tradition first began in the 1940s, the phantom rider that presented the game ball at the beginning of football games was dressed in all white, but in recent years was changed to its current black cape and hood.

The students made their request to the board in January and said they understood that the intent of the statue was to promote and honor the pride of being a Kaukauna High School Galloping Ghost and that there was no intentional symbolism alluding to a Ku Klux Klansman.

However, they also noted that instead, the statue creates confusion for visitors and leaves them wondering about the values of the high school and the community boasting a statue, even though unintended, of a racist symbol.

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.