Ed Froehlich sort of suspected that someone might do something this weekend to acknowledge his 40 years as the director of the Quad-City Times Bix 7.
He never expected this.
As it is, the Quad-City Times and the city of Davenport joined together to do something to render the normally garrulous Froehlich darn near speechless.
Davenport mayor Frank Klipsch issued a proclamation Friday renaming a portion of 3rd Street just east of downtown “Ed Froehlich Way.’’ The announcement came during a prerace party at St Ambrose University’s Rogalski Center that included no less than six standing ovations for Froehlich and other members of his committee.
“Oh my goodness … I had no idea,’’ Froehlich admitted before reverting to the sense of humor for which he has become known.
“I really wanted Kirkwood Boulevard, though.’’
The section of 3rd Street that will bear Froehlich’s name is between Iowa and LeClaire Streets, which is where the Bix 7 finish line is located.
Klipsch said the gesture carried the full support of the entire city council and was the result of a “mutual effort’’ between the city and the Times.
“Obviously, this event is much more than a local running event,’’ he said. “It’s a worldwide festival event. It becomes economic development, it becomes fundraising, it becomes a Quad-City visitors opportunity, it becomes a family reunion. So many things about that.
“I’ve known Ed for 32 years and I think what he has done and the enthusiasm that he brings … and he has his unique way of doing things … I think we decided that we wanted to do something a little more permanent.’’
Froehlich has won about every national award available to race directors and has carried out his duties with a unique, lighthearted style.
Klipsch noted that the street name has a double meaning in that way.
“As people come to the finish line, they’ll continue to remember that this is the Ed Froehlich way of doing a race,’’ he said.
Officials from the Times also showered Froehlich with praise at Friday’s event.
“Ed, I think of you as the coach and you’ve made all of us a part of your team,’’ Times publisher Deb Anselm said.
Executive editor Matt Christensen said the newspaper and the city thought long and hard to find a fitting way to honor Froehlich’s contributions.
“What do you do for a guy who has his face on T-shirts and a bronze statue?’’ Christensen said.
After reading the proclamation, which recited most of Froehlich’s honors and achievements, Klipsch unveiled the sign, giving a facsimile to Froehlich. He announced that signs already had been erected at the location so they could be seen during the Arconic’s Jr. Bix 7 on Friday night and the big race Saturday.
Froehlich will step aside following Saturday’s Bix 7 and hand the race director duties to longtime assistant Michelle Juehring.
“He’s a tough act to follow but we know Michelle and the whole team is going to do a great job in the future,’’ Klipsch said. “It’s a great legacy and Davenport, as a legacy community, we think it’s important to remember Ed as part of that legacy.’’
Froehlich admitted that it hasn’t quite hit him yet that something that has been part of the daily fabric of his life is about to end.
“That will wait until after Saturday when we’re done,’’ he said.
He said he had few fleeting second thoughts as he got caught up in the excitement of the Brady Street Sprints that open Bix weekend on Thursday night.
“I thought ‘How can I get out of this?’’’ he said with a grin. “It was so exciting. That was a great night.’’