In weeks just before the Summerfest celebration, the iconic cannon in Ford City Memorial Park is getting additional attention.
A plaque is being placed by the cannon to commemorate its history at the former Ford City High School.
The Ford City High School Cannon Restoration Committee raised a total of $5,000 to restore the cannon and place a plaque.
The cannon, a German relic, was given to the Ford City High School in approximately 1950 as part of the “spoils of war” from World War II. It guarded the entrance on 4th Avenue for 65 years. As the school prepared to close in 2015, the Armstrong School District donated the cannon to Ford City Borough to be placed in the Park.
Former VFW Post 4843 Commander Swigart, along with former 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 Ford City 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 that used to live in Ford City,” Bartuccio commented. “They were generous, very generous!”
Bartuccio said that the placement of the plaque will complete the project by the Ford City High School Cannon Restoration Committee.