Shortly after the first festival the Clinton Jaycees set out to buy a real Venetian gondola made in Italy. Not knowing exactly how to go about buying a gondola, or how much should be spent, the Jaycees began investigating the possibility of the purchase.
Since the entire project was first brought up by Joe E. Beadsley II, he assumed the responsibility of getting Clinton a gondola. After much research and discussion, on November 16, 1966 the Clinton Jaycees ordered the gondola to be built. The purchase price was $1627. On June 27, 1967 Clinton’s gondola left its birthplace in Venice, Italy and shipped to the U.S. The Gondola made is debut at the 1967 Festival.
Between the years of 1967 and 1979 visitors to the Festival could take a ride on the Wabash River in an real Venetian gondola. This is one of only two authentic Venetian gondolas in the United States. There was also a “fleet” of three pontoons for hire as well. After the 1979 Festival the Gondola was retired from active service for a variety of reasons. It is still being used today for parades and publicity events. It has become the virtual symbol of The Little Italy Festival. If you get a chance to see it is something you will never forget!