Broadway Plaza officially renamed Kesey Square

Broadway Plaza now goes by a new name -- Kesey Square. October 18, 2017. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. -- Broadway Plaza now goes by a new name -- Kesey Square.

City officials say Eugene City Council voted 5 to 1 to rename the square Wednesday during a work session.

The decision came after a naming committee, formed by Mayor Vinis at the council's request, recommended the name change in a 7 to 2 vote.

So, what's in a name?

The square may not be physically changing, but many are happy it's officially named Kesey Square.

For those we spoke with, the name represents someone who brought a lot of attention to the community and a history that continues to be told.

At the corner of Broadway and Willamette in downtown Eugene, you’ll find a statue of a man named Ken Kesey, and a corner once formally known as Broadway Plaza now named Kesey Square.

But that's the name many locals say they've already been using for the area.

"I've always called this the Kesey Square,” said Amanda Hayward, a Eugene resident for the past six years, “so, for at least six years now, this has been Kesey Square to me."

"It's a good idea changing it to Kesey Square,” said Jonathan Markoff of Eugene, “everyone already calls it that and he's a popular symbol of the county."

So, who exactly is Ken Kesey?

Many know him as one of Oregon's most famous authors, particularly for his bestseller: "’One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, which was based in Salem at the state hospital," recalled Sheryl Kundert, visiting Kesey Square from the Albany area.

He also wrote another classic called, "Sometimes a Great Notion."

Kesey, a University of Oregon graduate, also became famous for his ride with the Merry Pranksters. The original "Further Bus" journeyed across the country as part of Kesey's psychedelic excursion.

And more than 40 years ago, when the Springfield Creamery Company was nearly broke, owner Chuck Kesey and his author-brother Ken hatched a plan to invite the Grateful Dead. “20,000 Deadheads showed up for the event,” recalled one Kesey Square visitor.

Some say Kesey was a pinnacle in the area. “Well, in the ‘60s yeah, yeah," said Kundert.

For others, the square is more than a symbol.

"I enjoy this area,” said Hayward. “There's so much that goes on here; it's really nice."

"And little kids like to play tag here," added Phillip, a youngster visiting the square.

And they’re happy with the change.

"I think it's great they renamed it after him," said Kundert.

"I was stoked to know they officially renamed it the Kesey Square now," said Hayward.

The square represents a legacy that can be shared for generations to come.

Many community events are often held at Kesey Square. For more information visit the City of Eugene website and click the "Vibrant Downtown Eugene" tab.

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