'Obama' to join leaders in Clermont

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'Obama' to join leaders in Clermont 

ROXANNE BROWN Staff Writer                                  photo VICTORIA ALDRICH / SOUTH LAKE PRESS

John Zweifel, owner of the President's Hall of Fame, installs a flag bearing Barack Obama's image inside a display case on Wednesday. 

President Barack Obama just moved into the White House, and soon he'll be welcomed in Clermont — as an occupant at the Presidents Hall of Fame.

Obama memorabilia is not lacking inside the museum, with election and inaugural souvenirs including magazine covers, signs, stickers, coins, pins, bags and pictures.

A replica of the Oval Office's large Resolute Desk, with a life-size Obama cut-out standing behind it, is also in place.

The most popular attraction for visitors is to sit in the chair behind the desk or stand next to the Obama cut-out to have pictures taken.

The only thing missing, of course, is Obama himself.

Which is why museum curator John Zweifel is working with the finest artisans to ensure the Obama wax statue he has on order arrives as quickly as possible and as close to the real Obama as it can be.

"The Obama rush has been phenomenal so we are going for perfection," Zweifel said. "We have the only one (statue) that's animated right now too."

The Obama statue, expected by April 1, will accompany wax replicas of the 43 presidents before him and those of many of their first ladies.

A Michelle Obama wax statue, possibly dressed in a replica of her inaugural gown, is also in the works.

Zweifel is working on about 80 additional projects that include replicas of all 44 presidential offices, changes to update the traveling white house miniature created in 1976 by Zweifel and his wife Jan, a display to honor the greatest moments in history and a big celebration for the United State's 300th birthday in 2076.

A collection of Barack Obama stickers, buttons and collector's plates has joined a display case on modern presidents inside the President's Hall of Fame.

"It's a one-of-a-kind place that people have right here in Clermont and we are open every-day of the year. There's nothing else like this anywhere," Zweifel said. "And I want to have something here for every person that walks through our door."

Even before entering, people can get a feel of traveling across the country to visit historic landmarks such as the Lincoln Monument, Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty by way of replicas Zweifel
has had created.

"This museum is just a pearl filled with so much history and endless knowledge to be gained," visitor Mary Lou Gajdosik said.

Gasjdosik, from St. Louis, Mo, said she has never seen such an out-standing collection of presidential items. She said she was not only impressed by the items but by Zweifel, whom she said had more wisdom regarding presidential facts than anybody she's ever known.

"It's pretty awesome that he (Zweifel) took the time to show us around and talk to us. He's a wealth of knowl-


OBAMA From A1 

edge," Gisidosik said.

Zweifel and his wife, Jan are allowed to visit the White House to study changes and additions about every two months.

The Zwelfels have also attended 12 inaugurations, counting Obama's this year.

Zwelfel has also had the honor to have met many of the nation's presidents and first ladles in person.

Zweifel encourages patriotism and love of country and can talk endlessly about the experiences he's had throughout his life without ever nearing party lines.

Zweifel said he is excited for the Obama statue to arrive so that people can enjoy everything as current as he can get It. "I want people to get to know all the president better. They are all fascinating," Zwelfel said.

For more information, call 352-394-2836 or visit www.thepresidentshalloffame.



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