This summer, a new state-of-the-art miniature golf course, showcasing iconic features unique to Chautauqua County, was unveiled at Midway State Park. Months in development, the course proudly takes its place alongside the kiddie rides that make the family-oriented amusement park special to so many.
Take for example, the Randall Peterson family. Sue Peterson was looking for a way to memorialize her late husband, Randy, and Peter Sullivan, master mind behind the new Midway Mini-Golf course, needed a sponsor for a special statue. Sometimes fortune smiles in the best way and the two were connected through conversations at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
Since the Peterson family had a long-standing relationship with Midway, sponsorship of something connected with the course seemed like a natural fit. Friends of Midway, a non-profit group dedicated to supporting and restoring the park, became the beneficiary and Rocket Man became reality.
The mini-golf course is a true walk around Chautauqua County. Each hole highlights something unique or historic to this area. A space ship adorns one hole, a last vestige of the original course at Midway. The concept that an astronaut of some kind should hover near it seemed like a natural idea to Sullivan who approached local artist and sculptor, Vince Freeman.
Made of stone and wire, Freeman carefully crafted a framework, complete with rocket pack, out of steel. Stones from the county were gathered to fill up the interior space, forming the statue.
As it came time to place the stones, Sue paid a visit to Freeman’s studio. He told her, “You’re here; you have to help.” Together they worked on the piece and when it was time to position the “heart stone,” Sue put it gently it in place, forever becoming part of the memorial.
Today, Rocket Man cheerfully stands next to his spaceship for all to enjoy. He is a testament to Sullivan’s vision, Freeman’s artistry, and Sue Peterson’s desire to give back to the community in honor of her husband through the Randall S. Peterson Memorial Fund. When searching for a memorial, she said she was looking for something different because Randy always problem-solved “out of the box.” From his smile, Rocket Man seems to agree with her choice.