First Posted: 9/24/2013
With the Christopher Columbus holiday approaching, I think it fit to offer facts and history about our Christopher Columbus statue located in the Pocket Park at the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and South Main Street in downtown Pittston.
It certainly is not unusual to see such a monument in a city with a large Italian-American xommunity, however Pittston harbors a unique one, unlike any other that I’m aware of, as this statue was sculpted of Carrera marble found only in the Tuscany region of Italy. It is the same marble Michelangelo worked with and is of true Eenaissance style.
Christopher Columbus, 1451-1506, a native of Genoa, Italy, was an inspiration to millions of immigrants who departed from the homeland to pursue a better life in the new world. He was the symbol of courage and perseverance, something needed by those who were to make that difficult voyage across the Atlantic during the first part of the 20th Century.
A committee was formed in the 1960s and its goal was to erect a new statue, replacing an older one that stood at the Roosevelt School in South Pittston by the fork in the road. That statue haa since been destroyed.
The committee consisted of representatives from many different Italian clubs in the area, in conjunction with the Columbus League of Luzerne County, and all are listed on the large bronze plaque at the base of the statue.
William Medico, president of Medico Industries, which, at that time, was located on Tompkins Street in Pittston, traveled to Italy and commission a sculptor to create an effigy of the great mariner, the first Italian to reach the shores of a new continent, later known as America, named after another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.
The crated statue arrived at the docks of New York in September 1969 and was loaded onto one of Medico’s trucks by crane and transported to Pittston. It was then placed on a granite base at its current spot.
The magnificent work of art was unveiled on Columbus Day 1969 during a large ceremony. Many dignitaries and community leaders were in attendance to offer remarks and congratulations, while Cino Paci’s marching band played musical selections.
As a young man of 18 years old, I can still remember the pride and joy etched on the faces of those men who worked so diligently to achieve their goal of having Christopher Columbus adorn their beloved city. What a grand day it was in the history of Pittston.
A similar ceremony will again be held this year on Columbus Day weekendat 12:30 p.m on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the monument, as it has been since 1969, conducted and sponsored by the Italian-American Association of Luzerne County.
Pittston City Councilman