The iconic cannon has made its way back into Ford City Memorial Park.
The cannon, a German relic, given to the Ford City High School in the late 1940’s, guarded the entrance on 4th Avenue for 65 years.
Former VFW Post 4843 Commander Karl Swigart of North Buffalo Township first talked with School Board Director Paul Lobby about giving the cannon to the Post many years ago. As the school prepared to close, his recommendation then was to have the Armstrong School District donate the cannon to Ford City Borough to be placed in the Park.
Swigart, along with then-Councilwoman Kathy Bartuccio, local historian Bill Oleksak, local resident Caroline Hassa, and former Armstrong County Veterans Affairs Director Chuck Righi. were tasked with the job of fund-raising to have the cannon restored.
There was an ongoing debate over what color the cannon should be painted.
Bartuccio, a 1976 graduate of Ford City High School, said the cannon was painted with the school colors of purple and gold before unknown students of Kittanning High School splashed it with red and white, signifying the rivalry of the two teams.
Borough Parks and Recreation Committee Member Stacy Klukan said at a meeting in 2016 that the cannons in Brackenridge are painted the original color and not brown and gold for Highlands High School.
The committee decided to keep the cannon the original school colors.
Hassa said that although the cannon is in Memorial Park, it isn’t intended to be a war memorial.
“If we would have painted it green or grey, that reminds me of a memorial. I wouldn’t want my children climbing on a memorial dedicated to service men. This was a German cannon given to the school. We thought that we would keep with tradition. This is the last piece of anything we have from the school,” Hassa said.
Oleksak predicted that many alumni would come back to town to reminisce as they look at the cannon. Perhaps he is right since many of the donations received came from graduating classes of the 1960’s.
“Many of the people who donated were from out of town who used to live in Ford City,” Bartuccio commented. “They were generous, very generous!”
Bartuccio said that approximately $4,600 has been donated to date toward the project, but said there is still a bit more to do, such as putting cement pads under the wheels.
Although the cannon has been returned to the Park, sandblasted and in its restored colors, the committee still isn’t finished. They want to add an emblem found in an old Ford City yearbook and a plaque.
Former Councilwoman Vicki Schaub looked forward to the committee completing the restoration.
“It’s been a landmark here, and the kids that grew up in town have played on it, taken pictures by it – the citizens feel it’s important to keep it in the community.”