Coming up with a name for the giant kinetic sculpture in downtown Billings was a snap for Riverside Middle School seventh-grader Elizabeth Burley.
Her father, Paul, picked her up after basketball practice at the YMCA and, on their way home, drove under the sculpture formerly known as the "defining element." They were still beneath it when the name popped into her head.
"It was just, like, pointing at the sky," Elizabeth said. "It just came right away."
Her brainstorm was "Billings Sky Point," and it was the unanimous decision of a five-member selection committee to adopt it as the sculpture's new name, with a slight change. The committee dropped "Billings" from the title and condensed the last two words into one.
Today at 1:15, Elizabeth will be honored and the sculpture officially will be christened "Skypoint."
The ceremony will be in the old Montana Bank Building at Second Avenue North and Broadway, in the shadow of Skypoint. The $369,000 sculpture is intended to be the centerpiece of downtown Billings, marking a gathering spot where outdoor events will be held.
Greg Krueger, director of the Downtown Billings Association, said Elizabeth will be given a key to the city by Mayor Chuck Tooley during the event today, as well as a basket of gifts from downtown and Rimrock Mall merchants.
Krueger said about 80 entries were turned in as part of the naming contest, which was sponsored by the DBA and was open to children 13 and younger. The selection committee spent about an hour working its way through the entries until settling unanimously on Elizabeth's. Other top contenders were "Pivot Point," "Billings Big Sky Tower," "Center Sail" and "Broadway Spiral."
Elizabeth, 13, had seen the sculpture a few times as it was being built this spring. Her parents work on the third floor of the old Hart-Albin building, overlooking Second and Broadway, at Paul's business, EDM, an environmental and engineering consulting company.
Elizabeth's mother, Nancy, said she got the call when Skypoint was chosen and had the pleasure of giving her daughter the good news.
"The tears started running down her eyes," Nancy said. "She was just so excited."
Elizabeth found out she was the winner early in May, and she was asked to keep the name a secret until today. It wasn't easy.
"Everyone asked me, and I said no," she said.
Some of those who couldn't pry the secret out of Elizabeth will get their consolation prize today. Riverside Principal Mike Smith allowed Elizabeth to pick 35 friends to attend today's ceremonies, and they will be riding a school bus with her to the festivities. Ed Kemmick can be reached at 657-1293 or firstname.lastname@example.org