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TODAY   |  February 21, 2013

Massive kissing statue: tacky or romantic?

The statue version of that iconic World War II kiss now has a permanent home in San Diego. While it is the epitome of romance for some, many are complaining about its size. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> a special moment in american history is making major waves along san diego 's waterfront. alongside the giant kiss statute to explain, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. san diego a big military community. there are many people who think this is incredibly patriotic and others who just plain think it's an eyesore. people have actually resigned over this. a 25 foot 14,000 pound piece of art that is stirring up a plus-size controversy. it is one of history's most iconic images, the photograph taken at the end of world war ii has become larger than life . not everyone likes how literally one artist took that.

>> the ultimate in bad taste.

>> reporter: stewart johnson's 25 foot statute called unconditional surrender is along the bayfront and for some, it's the epitome of romance.

>> reporter: this couple renewed their vows ins the sculpture's massive shadow.

>> we were photographed kissing in public in front of it.

>> want to do it again?

>> reporter: the statute is a giant cloud over san diego .

>> it's completely out of scale to what made the photograph charming.

>> reporter: it's not stewart's only controversial piece. the giant maryland in chicago and now in palm springs and it's come under fire in sarasota, florida. in san diego , the kiss was meant to be temporary, when more than a million dollars was raised through public donations to construct a permanent version, three members of the port's art committee resigned in protest. and in a statement the sculpture foundation that sold the work said by its very nature public art is inviting dialogue. in this case, is there no question of that.

>> i think it's fabulous.

>> formally tacky.

>> and like it or not, it is definitely attracting a lot of visitors and also a lot of attention.

>> i can imagine.

>> in san diego for us this morning. thanks. can we get a verdict?

>> i like it.

>> i like it.

>> too big.

>> it should be about 10 feet tall, bigger than the ship next to it.

>> i like how it inspires couples to kiss each other.

>> they're talking about it and people are coming to go see it.

>> that's what art is. that's art.

>> want to say that again?

>> i just said it. inspiring people, people are talking about it, coming down to see it. i think that esart and what art is supposed to do.

>> in the eyes of the