Concrete saw takes down final piece of Kate Smith statue

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Concrete saw takes down final piece of Kate Smith statue
Concrete saw takes down final piece of Kate Smith statue. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on April 23, 2019.

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Tuesday morning, a concrete saw took down what was left of a sight familiar to any Flyers fan outside the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

The pedestal upon which the bronze Kate Smith statue stood for almost a decade was removed just days after the 40-year-old statue itself was taken down.

Flyers remove Kate Smith statue amid racism allegation. Water Perez has more on Action News at 6 p.m. on April 21, 2019.

For decades, Smith's popular rendition of "God Bless America" was played before every Flyers game. That's now been scrubbed from the organization's playlist.

"I don't think it's an overreaction," said Alina Daniel of Northeast Philadelphia.

It is a reaction though, a strong one, by the Flyers organization to racist lyrics the late artist sang in the 1930s. But equally as strong is the backlash.

"I think it's the right thing to do to take it down," said Alex Thompson of South Philadelphia. "The song has some history with the organization, but when those findings come out after the fact you kind of have to do what's right."

"That's a little excessive," said Michael Kelly of South Philadelphia.

Among the most vocal critics is Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano.

He said on the Dom Giordano radio show Monday that he will continue playing Smith's iconic song along the boardwalk.

Wildwood mayor defends Kate Smith. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on April 23, 2019.

Wildwood has a tradition of raising the flag every morning on the boardwalk while playing Smith's song.

On Monday night, Action News tracked down the mayor who turned down an on camera interview. He said that he plans to talk to his cabinet to make sure they all feel as passionate about the issue as he does. Though passion is something he's likely to find on either side of the issue.