Ocean City Inlet Sculpture Restoration Underway

Ocean City Inlet Sculpture Restoration Underway
Artist Peter Toth is pictured Wednesday restoring his sculpture. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The restoration of the Native-American sculpture, which has stood sentinel at the Inlet for over four decades, got underway in earnest this week by the original artist who created it.

Artist Peter Toth presented the Native-American sculpture perched near the entrance to the Inlet lot at the foot of the Boardwalk to the town of Ocean City and the people of Maryland in 1976 as part of his larger plan to create a similar piece for every state in the U.S. as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. Through his Trail of the Whispering Giants plan, Toth has created a sculpture unique to each state to raise public awareness about the plight of Native-Americans and his gift to Maryland represents the Assateague Indian.

The sculpture stands 20 feet tall and welcomes residents and visitors to Ocean City as one of the resort’s most iconic images. It has been in place at the Inlet since 1976, and has stood the test of time, tides and fierce weather over the last 45-plus years. However, it has gradually eroded over the years and has fallen into disrepair somewhat.

To that end, local residents Becky and Larry Yates last year made contact with Toth and made arrangements to bring back the original artist to return to Ocean City to restore the sculpture. That work began this week with Toth and his local assistant Bob Carr working to restore the Inlet sculpture.

Toth is donating his labor, time and expertise during the restoration, but the Yates’s, working with the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) have collected donations to help pay for his lodging and meals, for example, while he is here. Several local businesses have also pitched in with the donation of supplies and needed equipment during the restoration.

Rain early this week curtailed the efforts somewhat, but Toth and Carr were back out at the site on Wednesday to continue the restoration process somewhat. Toth said he believed the project was back on schedule.

“We’re moving along okay,” he said. “We should be finished by Monday. Becky has been wonderful through this whole process.”

Toth said there have been no shortage of visitors and curiosity-seekers during the restoration process, and more than a few were unaware the Inlet sculpture is just on of many.

“People come and see just one statue,” he said. “They don’t know I’ve created one for every state, and for several countries in Europe. I don’t just limit myself. I love Native-Americans and these sculptures are a reflection of that. People don’t realize as an artist my entire canvas is the north American continent.”

For Toth, the Native-American sculpture at the Inlet in Ocean City represents, “not just a statue. It’s in honor of all people facing injustice, just like the folks in Ukraine, who are facing injustice.”

Toth said each of his sculptures were carefully designed to reflect the Native-American tribes and cultures in the areas where they have been created.

“I went to the Smithsonian and carefully studied the archives for each and every one of these sculptures. There is a lot of attention to detail in each and every one,” he said.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.