On December 9, 2023, four sculptural planters created by nationally renowned local sculptor, Chris Williams, and spearheaded by Generous Gardners, were dedicated in a ceremony on Stacy Boulevard. The new planters are an integral part of the memorial plaza redesign by local landscape architect, Ann Gilardi Johnson, and complement the “Man at the Wheel” 300th legacy project of 1923.
Landscape Designer Ann Gilardi Johnson Addresses the Crowd at the Dedication Ceremony
Text of Ann Gilardi Johnson’s Remarks
Gloucester has always been about the ocean and its wonderful harbor.
It is the ocean and harbor that drew the indigenous settlers and every other ethnic group to our shores. The ocean surrounds us and shapes us; it feeds us; it makes us strong and resilient; it inspires us. This is a special place. Read the 400 stories; Gloucester builds special people and traditions.
Chris’s mantra as he worked was “we have to get it right”. He spent hours hand crafting each piece of these planters. And then sometimes he spend hours taking his work apart and redoing it. We have to get it right.
That is the message of these planters. We have to get it right whether we are building gardens, planters or 2000 units of housing. We have to get it right to honor our history and inspire our citizens. We have to get it right to guarantee a new generation of artists, poets and inventors.
If we get it right, our City will flourish and a future generation will stand before this harbor and commend us and OUR stories will be the 500 stories.
I salute Generous Gardeners for backing me with their sponsorship of this project. The Generous Gardeners are all volunteers, there is no paid staff. This project would never have happened without them.
I salute Mayor Vega. When we brought him to Chris’s studio to see what Chris was doing he immediately backed the project and committed the City to funding one planter.
I salute Bruce Tarr and Anne Margaret. Their combined expertise in state Government was invaluable. They knew exactly how to expedite state funding for two more planters.
I salute our former Mayor. When we brought the plan of improvements to Sefatia, she ordered the first phase. She commented that the planters were a perfect project for a local sculptor, and it inspired us to reach out to Chris.
I salute Mike Nocella. Antonetta and I stood on this site after the granite benches were installed. Mike offered to paint the old planters that were tossed aside. When I mentioned that I had a grander vision, he wrote a generous check and that enabled Generous Gardeners to contract Chris for one planter. And that was only the first check he wrote.
I salute Chris Williams. It was an honor to work with you. Rest assured Chris – You Got it right!
Sculptor Chris Williams Addresses the Crowd
All photos and videos courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester.