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Heartlanders Herky a great addition to the Iowa River Landing

Wednesday, May 22nd
Heartlanders Herky a great addition to the Iowa River Landing

See the Heartlanders Herky on Parade statue in front of Xtream Arena


Coralville, Iowa – The Iowa River Landing is one of the Hawkeye State’s premier destinations, and this month the IRL added five Herky the Hawk statues (Herky is the University of Iowa’s mascot) for the 20th anniversary of Herky on Parade. The event is eastern Iowa’s largest public art installation, with 100 statues installed May 1. The Heartlanders were a proud partner with Think Iowa City for the event, and Heartlanders season ticket holders Jim and April Kelly designed Heartlanders Herky, which will spend the spring and summer at the plaza in front of Xtream Arena.


“We’ve worked with Josh Schamberger at Think Iowa City since the first Herky on Parade [in 2004],” Jim explained. “When we found out the Heartlanders were sponsoring one, I talked with Think Iowa City about doing it. We were hoping to do a hockey theme with the idea of a goalie being the most-recognizable uniform with all the extra pads, larger than life and protecting the team in front of Xtream Arena.”


How to see Heartlanders Herky: Stop by Xtream Arena’s front plaza to take your photo with Heartlanders Herky and tag @goheartlanders on social media. After your photo, visit the Team Store and Heartlanders ticket office to grab merchandise and tickets for the 2024-25 season, which begins in October 2024 at Xtream Arena. 


Jim has designed Herky statues for all three Herky on Parade displays (2004, 2014, 2024). He is a co-owner at the dog daycare Lucky Pawz in Iowa City and he and April have had their children heavily involved in youth hockey in eastern Iowa for years. For this year’s H.O.P., Jim and April designed Heartlanders Herky and Tooth Fair Herky together. April is an Art Teacher at Liberty High School and worked with the school on Thunder Hawk Herky. Jim also designed Ninja Turtle Herky.


Heartlander Herky is missing a tooth (in true hockey player fashion) and has a picture of the 2023-24 Heartlanders emblazoned on the eyes.

 “We had three in our basement at the same time, working on one and the others,” April said. “[For Heartlanders Herky], we did some testing with epoxy paint on a sample piece [to provide a protective film on the surface], but it dulled the color and added some additional time,” April said.


Heartlanders Herky features several unique designs, and was painted using acrylic, spray paint, and protective coatings of polyurethane to protect the colors. The goaltender has Heartlanders pads, a hockey stick with yellow tape and a white blocker with a yellow arrow in black trim. Herky is wearing Iowa’s black primary jersey with sunrise yellow piping around the numbers and catching an official game puck in his glove. When you look closer at the face, Herky is missing a tooth (in true hockey style), his jet black hair is messy and his eyes have a team locker room photo of the 2023-24 Heartlanders squad.


“The team photo was a Jim idea,” April said. “We came over after practice and took a photo in the locker room. All the players’ signatures are hiding underneath Herky’s body. Jim thought it would be a cool idea if we shrunk the 2023-24 team down and used it as the eyes.”   


“Any public sculpture is a tactile process,” Jim said. “Building out the jersey and pads, having the tooth missing where people can touch to show the tooth is actually missing rather than just black paint. We like to build to on top of the statue to have that 3D effect.”


Jim and April estimated that it took between 60-80 hours to design Heartlander Herky. 


Once summer ends and the Heartlanders Herky statue is moved to a new, to-be-determined location, Jim and April will be back at Xtream Arena for the fourth season of Heartlanders hockey. 


“We became season ticket holders straight away, we were at the ceremony when they unveiled the team name with our son’s junior team,” April said. “We come win or lose. We just really enjoy it and hope they continue to have success.” 


“It’s great entertainment for the whole family,” Jim said. “Seeing all the kids come out, all the noisemakers and [the mascot] Dash running through the crowd. It’s a lot of fun for everybody and it’s great to see.”   


Join the fun at Xtream Arena in the 2024-25 season

Full-season ticket plans are currently on-sale, and deposits can be placed for partial season-plans and group outings. Call 319-855-1775 or visit https://iowaheartlanders.com/tickets/ticket-plans to place a deposit on season tickets and learn more about becoming a season ticket member.


The 2024-25 ECHL schedule will be released this offseason. Stay tuned to Iowa Heartlanders social media (@goheartlanders) and the team’s website for the schedule release. Sign up here to be notified by text message when our Home Opener is announced for the 2024-25 season.