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David Letterman thanks Kankakee for gazebo-turned-rocking chair

Talk about re-purposing.

The national late-night spotlight shone brightly on downstate Kankakee Tuesday when the “Late Show with David Letterman” unveiled a very special retirement present for the host.

The David Letterman rocking chair, repurposed from a Kankakee gazebo. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

The David Letterman rocking chair, repurposed from a Kankakee gazebo. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

Summing up the backstory, Letterman explaned how “in 1999 Kankakee was rated one of the worst places to live in the United States. So we decided to send them something unique that they could build their reputation as a better place to live. So we sent them not one, but two gazebos for the center of town [one went to Cobb Park, the other to the old train depot] so Kankakee would be ‘The City of Twin Gazebos’ and people by the millions will flock to your community!

“And it worked,” Letterman deadpanned. “The city has never been more vibrant, more thriving.”

Alluding to some kind of correspondence from the city or the school, Letterman continued: “Since you’re retiring, we’re gonna take down one of the twin gazebos and fashion it into a lovely rocking chair for you, Dave, to enjoy in your retirement.”

So “Late Night” dispatched Todd the Intern to Kankakee last week to check out the city and attend the chair’s official unveiling at the city’s Paramount Theatre Classic Cinemas. (It is revealed at the 4:15 mark)

Kankakee High School teacher Bill Curtin and his “The American Experience” class students came up with the idea of the tear-down (of the gazebo near the railroad depot) and construction of the rocking chair after learning of Letterman’s impending “Late Show” departure on May 20.

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