Published March 13, 2008
Copyright by The Colorado Springs Gazette
SIDE STREETS: A family’s tragic past becomes slice of high school lore
For months, kids at Coronado High School have been visiting Bear Creek Regional Park at night to indulge in a prank.
They go to the tennis courts off Argus Road and 21st Street and drive in circles in the far south end of the gravel parking lot with their lights off.
According to legend, if they stop in front of the courts and flip on their headlights, they will come face-to-face with the ghost of Bear Creek Park.
“Half of Coronado has seen it,” said Nick Kadlec, a junior at the school. “People just freak out. Even after seeing it two or three times, you still get an eerie feeling.”
Of course, the Bear Creek apparition is a trick of light, easily explained. But behind the visions is a deeper, more extraordinary story.
An inscription on the concrete base offers a one-word clue: “Eddie.” A May 1979 newspaper clip reveals exactly who is playing tricks on those kids.
Eddie Rudolph IV.
Eddie was the towheaded, soccer-loving, 5-year-old son of Ed and Gwen Rudolph.
Eddie died tragically in 1979 in a car-train crash near Las Vegas Street. The steel sculpture was commissioned by his parents, along with a nearby playground, to honor their son.
“He had all this beautiful, snow white hair and a great smile,” Ed Rudolph, longtime Springs developer, said of his son. “He was the most positive little guy there was.”
The Rudolphs chose Bear Creek for the memorial because of its meaning to Eddie. It went up that summer.
“He was a little soccer player; that was his love,” Rudolph said, halting at the memory of his boy running through the park with his friends.
“That was the park where he practiced,” Rudolph said quietly. “His friends all lived in that area. He loved that place.”
Kadlec was stunned to learn of the story of the sculpture.
“Oh, wow,” he said softly. “Oh wow. I never thought about it like that. It really makes me think. I don’t know what to say.”
News that Coronado kids had stumbled onto Eddie’s memorial caught Rudolph off-guard as well.
Memories rushed back. Deep emotions, too. Not just of Eddie. The couple had also lost two daughters in infancy.
He and Gwen struggled with the idea anyone might view the sculpture negatively. As an evil ghost. Or that it might be defaced. They discussed moving the sculpture.
But they’ve decided to leave Eddie in the park and let him continue to play tricks on the kids from Coronado.
“It’s not a tombstone,” Rudolph said. “It’s a sculpture to be seen and touched and have a positive presence.
“The sculpture represents a happy little boy. I hope his spirit is there. He had this wonderful spirit. So very positive. And I guess I want the kids to know the story of Eddie. Maybe it will make them think and be a positive presence in their lives.”
In a tragic post script to this story, Ed and Gwen Rudolph died on July 19, 2009, a little more than a year later. Read about this amazing couple in this Gazette story.