SOUTHINGTON - A statue of Christopher Columbus five years in the making will be unveiled at the John Weichsel Municipal Center during a dedication ceremony Oct. 9.
The Columbus Monument Committee will unveil the statue during a time that will be publicly announced soon, in conjunction with the national holiday commemorating the 525th anniversary of the discovery of America.
The monument project was spearheaded by several organizations, including the Joe & Jay Calvanese Foundation, Knights of Columbus Isabella Council 15 and Assembly 122, Southington Sons of Italy, Sorelle d’Italia in America and Southington Unico National, all of which supported the funding of the statue. There were also several private donors, whom Dick Fortunato, Columbus Monument Committee Coordinator, said he is very grateful for.
“I feel very excited to see this project come to fruition,” said Fortunato. “I really believe in it; this is so much more than a gift to the Italian-American community. I feel that although Columbus Day is highly celebrated, we are losing our sense of history in this country - even going back only so far as the Colonial era. This monument will serve as a reminder of how we got here and the beautiful gem that we found.”
Fortunato said the committee worked with Mathieu Memorials in the design and construction of the base-mounted, Vermont grey granite stone pillared monument, which supports a bust of Columbus standing more than 7 feet high. The site will be skirted by landscaping, which includes an engraved brick pathway leading to the monument, which Fortunato said will be placed on the right side of the entrance to the municipal center. The monument, which will cost between $21,000 and $23,000, will be completed without any expense to the town.
“We want to involve the Town Council and local charitable organizations in the dedication ceremony and I will be meeting with Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan soon,” said Fortunato. “I want to thank Kathy Reinhardt and Dawn Miceli for doing a great job in helping to move this project forward.”
Fortunato said the initial idea for a statue commemorating Christopher Columbus was raised by the late Joseph Angelillo in 2012.
Volunteers who knew of his desire to celebrate the discovery of America took up the torch after his death in 2014 and put the plan into motion.
The front of the Municipal Center was ultimately chosen for the statue’s location due to its public access and high visibility.
“It is hoped that this gift to the Town of Southington, placed at the portal of its education system, will enhance history studies in the classrooms; that it may open the minds of students to the visionary explorers, mass migrations and the spirit of freedom that replaced the Dark Ages with a New World in America,” said Fortunato.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.