Norwich – Ken Capano, whose family owns local ShopRite supermarkets in Norwich and New London, today donated $10,000 to the Norwich Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee for the project that created the nation's first custom-cast bell to mark the anniversary.
Capano said this morning he was enthusiastic about the "unique" project since he was first approached by committee co-chairs Dale Plummer and Sheila Hayes and Mayor Peter Nystrom.
"I just think it's a great project and a great thing to do for Norwich to take the lead in the state," Capano said during a ceremonial check presentation this morning at the West Main Street ShopRite store. "It's a memorable event, truly unique."
Norwich held a three-day festival in June, when a crew from the Verdin Bell Co. of Cincinnati cast and polished the 250-pound bronze bell for Norwich. The committee now is raising money for an Emancipation Proclamation memorial courtyard in front of City Hall, where the bell will be erected permanently.
The cornerstone-laying ceremony for the courtyard is scheduled for Sept. 22, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The city plans a big ceremony Jan. 1, 2013 to mark the actual anniversary when the proclamation to free slaves in the rebellious southern states took effect. Norwich will ring all bells and will fire a 100-gun salute on that day – a re-enactment of the city's actual celebration 150 years earlier.
"I want to support this for myself, my family and my company," Capano said.
Nystrom thanked the Capano family for supporting the project, which he said continues to bring state and national attention to the city in renewed emphasis on tourism and history.