Sock Monkeys, Fiberglass – Nuggets of History

See Rockford Historical Society’s Nuggets of History Vol. 53  No.  2, Spring 2015 Article by Carol J, Fox

The original sock monkey was made with Nelson Knitting Co. red-heeled socks (red heels since 1932) of Rockford, Il  in business from 1880 – 1992.

In 1953 Helen Cooke from Aurora, IL patented the sock monkey.  She sued Mr. Stanley Levy for patent infringement.  Levy enlisted the help of Nelson Knitting Co., of Grace Winget, who made a sock monkey in 1951.  Nelson Knitting Co., then bought all patents for the sock monkey until it expired in the 1970’s.

Joan Sage, marketing director of Midway Village and Museum Center, inspired by Chicago’s fiberglass Cow Parade, suggested that Rockford could do similar with Rockford as the Hometown of the Sock Monkey. In 2004-5 businesses and individuals were asked to sponsor six-foot tall fiberglass sock monkeys,  Lpcal artists designed each monkey.

Where they are located:  [pictures of each in the article]  additional information in article

  1.  “Soxanne”  Artists: Marion Olson, Carol Anderson, Carol Ubben   Seated monkey, outdoors, Midway Village.
  2.  “Forest”  Artist Diane Garrett, Location: Chicago Rockford International Airport
  3.  “Earthly Angels”  Artist: Carol Jacobson,  Location:  Swedish American Hospital
  4.  “Lady Liberty” Artist:  Cora Hutchinson, Location:  National Business & Industrial Centre, in the old National Lock Building, 7th St. and 18th Ave.
  5.  “Rockford in Bloom”   Artist: Marty Panzer,  Location: Rockford Arts Council
  6.  “Carl Anders”  Artists: Marion Olsen, Candy Wolf and Carol Jacobson.  Location: Stockholm Inn
  7.  “Symbol” Artist: Deborah Stromsdorfer  Location:  Private residence of sponsor, Dr. Kris Tumilowicz,  across the river from the namesake “Symbol” sculpture.
  8. “Paper Boy” Artist: K Dyer Location: Rockford Register Star lobby.
  9.  “Rockford College Sock Monkey”  Artist: Jeanne Coe. Location:  Nelson Hall, Rockford University
  10.  “Victor e. Lane” Artist:  Jeanne Coe.  Location: Rockford Speedway
  11.  “Patriot”  Artist:  Lonny Stark  Location: Midway Museum Center inside,
  12.  “Cheap Trick”  Artist: Jeanne Coe  Location: Midway Museum Center  inside
  13.  “J. Nelson Pollack” Artist: Lorie Painter  Location: Library Center, Nelson Elementary School
  14.  “Julia M. Scout” Artists:  Karen Harding, Sandy Ures, Lisa Normoyle.  Location:  Camp Medill McCormick, Friendship Center
  15.  “Stillman”  Artist:  Joyce Bietau Rienken  Location:  Stillman Bank, Oregon, IL (now in storage area)
  16.  “Tradesman”  Artist:  Doug Adcock  Location: Project First Rate
  17.  “Building Rockford”  Artist:  Doug Adcock  Location: Fridh Construction
  18.  “Power of the Sun”  Artist:  Nicole Georgis  Location: Rockford Day Nursery
  19.  “Faces of Rockford”  Artists:  Mary Rosandich, Jeanne Coe, Joe Marchione  Location:  Transatlantic Connection   resides in private residence, and has been on display in Stewart Square
  20.  “Rockford Sports Tourist”  Artist: Jessica Cannova   Location unknown, once seen in Stewart Square
  21.  ” E.A.R.L.” Artist: Lorie Painter  Location: Private residence

Source: Nuggets of History, Midway Village, 2015 President: Scott Lewandowski


Project First Rate – 1983


Project First 1






Project First 2

Source:  Rockford Register Star Feb. 2, 1983

Marino, Joe

Mr. Fourth of July plaqueJoe Marino

Source: Rockford Register Star 7/5/2010

Joe Marino & Mike Marino

Source: Rockford Register Star 7/5/2010

statue of Joe Marino

Source: Rockford Register Star 7/5/2010

Mr. Fourth of July plaque

Source: Rockford Register Star 7/5/2010

A patch of grass at the corner of Water St and East State St, formerly known as Waterside Park was renamed Joe Marino Park during an unveiling of a life-size statue Sunday July 4 of the man who’s organized the Independence Day celebrations for 47 years. His son, Mike, unveiled the bronze statue. The Rockford Park District helped to coordinate the rededication of the park. The statue was sculpted by David Seagraves and paid for with funds raised by Friends of Joe M. Rockford’s Mr. Fourth of July – Joe Marino gives his all to celebrate the country’s birthday. For the past 46 years there have been 3 contestants at the Fourth of July Celebration Fireworks are bigger and better each year; Joe Marino makes it happen. Joe is the Go-to-guy for all things Fourth of July. City bestowed on him the title “Mr. Fourth of July” in 1981. Marino took a second mortgage on his house to pay $ for fireworks when fund was short. Marino took over as Fourth of July Chairman in 1963. also helps organize the Festival of Lights in partnership with Park District former TV pitchman for the former Hanley furniture. Mother: Francis; father: Jasper; immigrants from Palermo, Italy in 1894; son, Michael. 2 stepdaughters, Leslie and Nancy from marriage to Louise (deceased):  3 stepdaughters,  Melissa, Kimberly and Wendie from marriage to Margaret (divorced) three brothers: Sam, Babe and Charlie and two sisters, Dorothy and Ella (all deceased). Employment: Public Relations Director of Project First Rate. U S Navy on USS Henderson in So Pacific, based in Pearl Harbor, WWII. honorary chairman of AirFest 2009. presented the key to the city by Mayor Robert McGaw, 1973. Recipient of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce Forward Rockford Award. 1974 Marine Corps League Outstanding Citizenship Award, 1976 Winnebago County Bicentennial Award, 1976. Man of the Year Award, City of Rockford, 1977 Helped organize Italian Fiesta, precursor to Festa Italiana, and the Italian Hall of Fame, 1977 Started the Rockford Christmas Tree Committee, raising funds to decorate the community Christmas Tree, 1978 Rockford Register Star Excalibur Award finalist, 1978 Organized the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon Committee, raising funds for Jerry Lewis Telethon, 1980 Mr Fourth of July Award, City of Rockford, 1981 Inducted into Italian Hall of Fame, 1983 Received U S Vice-President’s Excellence Award, 1984 Created the Rockford Air Show Committee to be part of the Fourth of July Celebration Crimestopper of the Year Award, 1987 WQFL Radio Good Citizen’s Award, 1988 Formed the Mountain of Toys Committee, which distributed more than 70,000 toys to needy children list of more awards.

Source: Rockford Register Star 7/5/2010