'Kiss Statue' permanently bolted in place at San Diego's waterfront

SAN DIEGO - The replacement "kiss" statue depicting a sailor stealing a kiss from a nurse at the end of World War II was permanently bolted to its pedestal at the San Diego waterfront on Wednesday.

A crane hoisted the 25-foot-tall statue onto the pedestal at the G Street Mole at the downtown San Diego waterfront.

The replacement "kiss" statue arrived at the San Diego waterfront Monday morning and was temporarily set up so the location to place bolts could be marked. It was then taken down until Wednesday's installation, said Scott McGaugh of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.

The statue replaces "Unconditional Surrender," the 6,000-pound sculpture by J. Seward Johnson that was loaned to San Diego from 2007 to early last year. That statue is owned by the Santa Monica-based nonprofit Sculpture Foundation and was taken from San Diego to New Jersey for restoration.

The original is made of a foam core with a urethane outer layer and is susceptible to weather damage, while the replacement is made of more durable bronze.

Both the original and the replacement evoke the famed 1945 Life magazine photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in Times Square in New York when the end of World War II was announced, although Johnson said the work was actually based on a similar but less well known V-J Day in Times Square photograph taken by Victor Jorgensen.

Edith Shain, a former Los Angeles schoolteacher, claimed to be the woman in the photograph. She attended the unveiling of the original statue in San Diego and appeared at other local events before she died in 2010 at the age of 91.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m., in which several couples married during World War II are expected to renew their vows.

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