The latest rash of vandalism on Rossland Avenue – smashing of the long-standing Madonna statue in the Colombo Piazza – has lodge members expressing their frustration at this thoughtless act, and above all else, their sadness.
Until now, dedicated Colombo Lodge leaders have quietly put up with cleaning up dog feces, sweeping up garbage carelessly discarded, and even picking up used needles on occasion.
But finding the treasured icon in pieces early Monday, has the executive speaking aloud to raise awareness of what is happening in this special corner of the Gulch, which lies adjacent to the historic lodge.
“I was very disappointed in what we found,” Joe Parilla, Colombo Lodge president began. “The lodge and its members have put a lot of effort into building that park to improve the area. And it’s very unfortunate that there are some people who cannot respect this nice site, where people can go to visit and enjoy (Rossland Avenue).”
On Monday, members discovered that over the weekend, an unknown person or persons, ripped the Madonna statue off the wall and smashed it on the ground.
“This had been here from the start,” said Parilla. “A few of the members decided to make a special corner of the park to symbolize what they felt. And again, it’s just tragic that at the lodge, or anywhere in Trail, where people put in the effort to try and make things better, someone comes along and, for whatever reason, destroys it.”
The Madonna statue was displayed on a wood shelf that was attached to a faux door in the alcove. Because the shelf was also torn off, fixing and replacing the effigy will not be simple.
“That is going to make the repair a bit more complicated,” said Parilla. “The lodge has an executive meeting next week, so we’ll be discussing it and plans going forward to replace it.”
He says they’ll also have to start considering better security.
“It’s unfortunate, even in downtown Trail, where they had to put in cameras,” he said. “It’s a sign of the times, and it’s really unfortunate. I find it very sad that the town has to go through this.”
In the interim, the lodge has reported this vandalism to the Trail police.
The detachment is looking for tips regarding the broken statue. Witnesses or anyone with information is encouraged to call the Trail RCMP at 250.364.2566 or to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477).
“The RCMP encourages the public to report any incidents of concern that occur at the Piazza to the Trail and Greater District detachment, and we will respond accordingly,” Sgt. Mike Wicentowich said.
“The Colombo encourages public use of the space as that is why it was created. RCMP patrol this area as part of their regular course of duties in Trail.”
The Colombo Piazza was blessed by Father Gabriel in October 2007, and has since been open to the public.
Almost 300 people attended the opening of the park that fall day, which was marked by the first splashes of the fountain as the ribbon was sliced by former Colombo president Ron Parisotto, Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs, Father Gabriel and Rick Georgetti (great-great-grandson of Issaco Georgetti, Trail’s first Italian immigrant who grew up on the very spot where the flower garden now lies).
“The Piazza exemplifies the work by many citizens who made Trail the great city it is,” Parisotto told the crowd. “More than 50 skilled volunteers spent 7,500 hours on site and behind the scenes, fundraising and feeding the workers. We are fortunate to have a large number of dedicated people in our lodge, and I thank them.”
Parisotto also thanked the City of Trail, mayor, council and staff for being so helpful during the development of the park, and a special thanks went to the organizations, businesses and private citizens who supported the project with donations.
Then-mayor Bogs said the park represents the ideals and work ethics of Trail’s early Italians and their descendants “to make Trail a better place, and to share their heritage with others.”