Red Wing Shoe Co. culled through about 600 stories submitted by customers since fall, telling of how they wear their boots, and selected 32 of the tales to showcase in a new two-story “Wall of Honor” display, which opens Monday at the company’s retail store in Red Wing.
Chris Csoka, a New York City construction manager, wrote of helping to clean up the debris after terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center. Over eight months, he continuously wore through boots walking the 16-acre site from 3 to 8 p.m., six days a week. A co-worker eventually talked him into trying Red Wing Shoes. They may have saved his life.
Csoka wrote that a few days after he bought a pair of model 2292s, he was standing on a metal grate when he heard a sizzling sound and saw a flash of light. A transformer caught fire and exploded.
“Next, I was blown 10 feet into the air and landed on top of a police van parked across the street. I was bruised up, but not badly hurt,” he said.
Csoka said he later learned that the grate he stood on was zapped by 1,480 amps and 4,000 volts of electricity. “Luckily, my 2292s offered electrical hazard protection up to 20,000 volts,” he said. “I’m now on my 35th pair of Red Wing 2292s.”
Dave Schneider, chief marketing officer at Red Wing Shoe Co., came up with the 40-by-10 foot Wall of Honor idea to pay tribute to the workers who rely on their boots as a key part of their tool kits. The tribute also will have an online presence.
“This is not a promotional event in any way. This is purely an honor in recognition for people who’ve done remarkable work,” Schneider said.
He said that in the four years he has been with the company, he’s heard thousands of stories from loyal customers. One of his favorites came from the late Tom McCarthy, who had been a steamfitter/pipe fitter in St. Paul. McCarthy’s last project was the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where in 1999 he buried his boots and union retirement card in the cement under what is now center ice.
“So his entire family is coming to Red Wing, his six children,” for the exhibit’s unveiling, Schneider said. Five other honorees also will be present. “We have one gentleman, Dana Pope, who has actually worn the same pair of boots for some 40-plus years,” he said.
The wall will include 32 pairs of boots — minus those like McCarthy’s, which could not be retrieved. The exhibit will be refreshed annually.