Mark Dykstra, 68, said he remembers looking on as Mayor Richard J. Daley pulled the rope to unveil the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza half a century ago.

As Dykstra recalls, the curtain didn’t simply fall with ease. It got stuck, and it took a few moments to reveal the full statue.

Fifty years later, the ceremony to commemorate the original unveiling also went off with a hitch as hundreds looked on.

A protester showed up at Tuesday’s ceremony marking the 50th anniversary, wearing signs that referred to Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a “corporate pimp.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the 50th anniversary of the Picasso unveiling at Daley Plaza on August 8, 2017. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

The protester, who said he was with the carpenter’s union, began shouting as the event experienced some audio problems. He continued to yell as the Chicago Children’s Choir performed.

Emanuel, who later spoke for a few minutes, could be seen smiling as he looked off to the back of the crowd, where the protester was causing a scene and calling the mayor a “traitor.”

A Chicago Police officer eventually escorted the man away, but he returned about 10 minutes later.

Dykstra, who lives in south suburban South Holland and works in Chicago, said he thought the presence of a protester fit in with the theme of the event and the tone of the speakers.

“The speakers were talking about the hustling, brash, striving nature of this city, and I think the protesters fit that image,” he said. “This is America in action.”

Mark Dykstra, 58, looked on at Tuesday’s 50th anniversary ceremony half a century after he saw the original event unveiling the Picasso sculpture in the Daley Plaza. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The protester didn’t overshadow the rest of the event, which also featured the After School Matters Orchestra.

Taking notes about the ceremony on every inch of the back of the program pamphlet, Dykstra noted the celebration 50 years ago filled up Daley Plaza with thousands of people.

“Diversity is the difference. I don’t remember this kind of diversity from then,” Dykstra said as he paused for a few seconds. “It chokes me up.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel keeps an eye on a protester from the stage at the Daley Plaza ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Picasso sculpture. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times