While waiting for the bus across from my favorite grocery, I spy this friendly figure at his regular table. As usual, someone lovingly puts a scarf around his neck or a toque on his head in cold weather.
He is the late Frank Spinelli, founder of the Italian Centre Shop in 1959. The bronze was commissioned in 2004 by Zazo to commemorate the man who worked so hard to add life to the McCauley community. It sits in the park orginally known for its carnivals and community festivals in the 1920s. According to mccauley.info, "Patricia Park, later becoming known as Gyro Park, and finally as Giovanni Caboto Park, had already arisen providing a place for the children to enjoy a wholesome day outside, a place for the adults to congregate, and a focal point for the community to grow around."
The Spinelli family witnessed the slow transformation of the respectable neighbourhood during the 1950s into an inner city ghetto that people feared.
As stated on the Italian Centre website, the Spinellis "played a tremendous role in bringing the traditional culture of their homeland to Alberta... Their hospitality embraced immigrants and locals alike. Following in her parent’s footsteps, Teresa has worked with the Giovanni Caboto Society, supported a variety of inner-city organizations, and assisted in developing the decorative signage and street furniture that now characterize the Little Italy neighborhood." (italiancentre.ca)
The love and respect for this community is made tangible by this random act, evidence of the commitment to return this park to its former glory as a place people can celebrate and feel like they belong.