LANCASTER -- It was a perfect day. The small boy looked happy to be
there. And all the adults were happy too, seeing him back where
he belonged. Johnny Appleseed returned to the region of his birth,
yesterday, in his familiar form, but in bronze, reattached to the
polished granite base.
The unveiling of the recast Johnny Appleseed statue took place
in bright sunlight at 10 a.m. Friday in front of the Johnny Appleseed
Visitor Center on Route 2, Lancaster.
"We couldn't do it without the support of the community leaders,"
said Tom Meyers, chairman of the Tourism Committee for the Johnny
Apple Trail Association, introducing Ed Manzi, president of Fidelity
Bank. Fidelity, together with Asa Cole, publisher of the Sentinel
& Enterprise, spearheaded fund-raising efforts to recast the
statue in bronze after the first one, cast in polyurethane resin,
was toppled by the elements last winter.
"This was a great cause and we were happy to be part of it,"
Manzi said. "Johnny Appleseed is a really very positive aspect
of local culture and history, and also has regional and national
prominence. It only makes sense to sponsor and promote it."
"The Sentinel & Enterprise is delighted to be part of
this project. It was wonderful to see all the children enjoy it,"
Sensitively sculpted by distinguished artist Phil Cote, 57, of
Sterling - who grew up in Leominster and played on the site of the
Chapman farm as a boy - the statue has captured the minds and hearts
of all who've seen it.
State Rep. Mary Jane Simmons, (D-Leominster) sponsored the bill
that made Johnny Appleseed the official folk hero of Massachusetts.
"My kids go to the Johnny Appleseed School, so I thought, 'you
know, Johnny Appleseed was somebody; he should be something again,'
" she said.
Simmons was also instrumental in finding the original variety of
apple trees that John Chapman grew, Rambos, and planting seedlings
at the Visitor Center.
Shown as a young farm boy, with a tear in his pants, a frog in
his pocket, and the character in his face which has kept his name
alive for two centuries as the man who helped cultivate the American
wilderness, this statue and this commission have been one of Cote's
"It's all about telling a story. Art creates a bridge between
people, Cote said. "I'm glad that the people seem to feel what
I feel about it. Mr Cole and I have something in common. He is a
storyteller in newspapers and I am telling a story with my work.
So I would like to give Mr. Cole a model of the new Johnny Appleseed
statue, the first casting out of the mold."
Cole accepted the gift with evident pleasure. "Thank you,"
he said. "This is a complete surprise."