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Caesars’ ‘de-romanization’ marked with removal of 750-pound statue

It turns out the Ides of March wasn’t the problem for Caesar. It actually wound up being April 16.
The ‘de-romanization’ of the Caesars Indiana property unofficially began months ago, but it wasn’t until the casino-hotel’s namesake and fixture ‘ Julius Caesar ‘ was removed from atop the pavilion last Wednesday morning did the switchover to Horseshoe Southern Indiana become official. Or, official enough until the July 15 rebranding deadline.
Caesar ‘ measuring 12 feet tall from head to toe and tipping the scales at 750 pounds ‘ was carefully brought down from his perch by a large crane from Padgett Inc. and loaded onto a flatbed truck. He had watched over hundreds of thousands of gamers ‘ who brought in millions of dollars of revenue for Harrison County ‘ along S.R. 111 since 1998.
All the pomp and circumstance took place to celebrate Harrah’s $53 million investment to renovate the pavilion, casino and hotel. Gone will be all traces of the Roman empire, having been replaced with tastefully luxurious dark woods and crystal.
Among the folks on hand last Wednesday were Larry Townsend, original owner of the land on which the casino and hotel sits, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County vice president Sarah Turpin, Chamber board chairman Bill Taylor and county council chairman Carl (Buck) Mathes. In addition, several dozen onlookers watched from the decks of the Glory of Rome riverboat across S.R. 111.
After Caesars assistant general manager Neil Walkoff told the crowd about the rebranding, he turned the show over to the ‘real-life’ Caesar, who read from a scroll: ‘Noble citizens, be it known on this date, April 16, 2008, I, Caesar, do declare that the visible vestige of my empire shall be removed this date. My reign over Caesars Indiana and the empire in Elizabeth has been triumphant. Today I do hereby bequeath the naming rights of my glorious empire. By mid-summer, all citizens shall know these lands as Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Great gaming, great food and great service shall prevail. The legend is coming.’
The statue then made a slow journey to ground-level, where media surrounded the likeness to get a better look.
Mathes wound up with the statue, accepting Caesar on behalf of Harrison County.
‘I’d asked (Caesars Indiana spokesperson Judy Hess) at a meeting a while back if there was some way we could get some sort of piece of memorabilia from Caesars when they did their changeover, and I was kind of expecting something a little smaller,’ Mathes said. ‘I never thought we’d wind up with this statue. We’ll store him out on my farm until we can find a more suitable spot to put him.’
The statue was unloaded at Mathes’ farm without incident. Caesar sports a previously-cracked wrist as well as a hole in his chin and now rests face up alongside rusted farm equipment, almost looking to be tanning his bright, white fiberglass body.
‘He’ll probably need some patching whenever it’s time to move him, and he’s missing one half of his sword,’ Mathes pointed out as he sat on the statue’s chest. ‘We’ll cover him up with a big tarpaulin and put something in his feet to keep the varmints out until it’s time to move him.’
In addition to the rebranding announcement, Walkoff announced the opening act for the destination’s summer outdoor concert series: Sheryl Crow on May 24. Other artists slated to visit the gaming destination in the coming months include the Beach Boys, Stone Temple Pilots and the Black Crowes.
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