ATLANTIC CITY — The final Columbus Day wreath service at the current location of the city’s statue of the explorer took place Monday amid dirt mounds in a lot that is soon to be Bass Pro Shops.
The former parking lot on Columbus Boulevard has been cleared out, except for the statue of Christopher Columbus, which resulted in a makeshift platform for the ceremony Monday morning.
The statue, which has been in Atlantic City since it was brought over from Italy in 1958, will be moved to a new location in order to make room for the new business. Gennaro Consalvo, a longtime resident and member of the Columbus Day Committee of Atlantic City, said hopefully the move — the statue’s third — will be its final relocation.
The statue will be moved across Columbus Boulevard to near the Nike Factory outlet store that is part of Tanger Outlets The Walk, he said.
The wreath service is held every year to commemorate Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, as well as celebrate Italian heritage following a Mass at St. Michael’s on Mississippi Avenue.
Atlantic County Freeholder Frank Formica, who is a member of St. Michael’s Church, said, “Enough is enough. The statue deserves a final resting place.”
As part of the Columbus Day weekend, competitions traditionally are held for two titles: Miss Atlantic County and Miss Columbus Day. This year, a third was added for the first triple crown event — Miss Southern Counties. The new title winner represents all six southern New Jersey counties. The three winners are all eligible as contestants for the Miss New Jersey competition.
All three were crowned Sunday night in Ventnor and attended the ceremony Monday. Miss Atlantic County is Courtney Fairfield, Miss Columbus Day is Lindsey Giannini, and Miss Southern Counties is Sandra Okuboyejo.
Joann Fairfield, general chairman of the Columbus Day Committee of Atlantic City, and mother of the new Miss Atlantic County, said the annual event held Monday is a tradition that should be passed on to the younger generations.
Rosanna Consalvo Sarto, executive director of the Miss Columbus Day pageant and daughter of Gennaro Consalvo, said the young Italian community needs to be more involved.
Formica stressed the support of families and the church in the annual celebration of Columbus Day.
The Columbus statue spent a majority of the last 55 years in the Ducktown neighborhood — Atlantic City’s Little Italy — in Columbus Plaza. It had a brief, two-year stay at the All Wars Memorial Park on Albany Avenue, before moving to its current location. Its new home, according to Gennaro Consalvo, will be just outside the neighborhood but will remain within The Walk.
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