World's Largest Ronald Reagan Statue
President Ronald Reagan never visited Covington, Louisiana. Covington had been a Democratic stronghold for a century, and the city fell on hard times during the oil bust of the second Reagan administration. It would seem to be an unlikely place to build the world's largest Ronald Reagan statue.
But by 2003, Covington had gone Republican. A local councilman had just successfully renamed a parish road Ronald Reagan Highway. The first new signs went up in Covington, and it was at that dedication ceremony that a car pulled up and out stepped Patrick F. Taylor, Louisiana tycoon, owner of Taylor Energy Company, one of the 400 richest men in the world, and a good friend of Ronald Reagan.
"He told us that day, 'When Reagan passes away I'm gonna build the largest memorial to him that I can,'" recalled Trey Blackall, Covington's city council president. "And we said, 'We'd love to have it in Covington!"
Reagan died in 2004. The city waited for Taylor to fulfill his pledge, but he passed away five months later. It was left to Taylor Foundation to see the plan through, and after many deadlines and approvals the statue finally went up, in Covington, in 2008.
Reagan stands almost 10 feet tall -- one-and-one-half times life size -- atop a six-foot pedestal. Clad in a business suit, raising his right arm in a military salute, with a trademark Reagan smile on his face, he seems to be saying, "Welcome to the team, Covington."
"I think it's an excellent thing for the city," Trey said of the statue. "And it's what Mr. Taylor wanted. He wanted the biggest one, and he got it."