While visiting the 50th edition of the Little Italy Festival, make sure you stop at the Immigrant Square. Unfortunately, many visitors never follow the green, white, and red stripe on North Ninth Street which stops at the Square. Immigrant Square honors the heritage and history of Clinton and the Festival. On one corner there is the Coal Fountain which is a tribute to the mining which was the backbone of Clinton’s economy for many years.
In 1973, the immigrant statue, Luigi as Joe (Airola) called him, was dedicated to honor Clinton’s immigrant heritage. The 26 flags on display represent the countries who immigrants settled in Clinton.
Il Toro – the drinking fountain – was Joe’s vision and pet project. He and his brother-in-law met with the Mayor of Turin to request permission to bring Il Toro to Clinton. It was a hard sell because no others existed outside of Turin. Finally, the mayor agrees and Joe had his Il Toro which he donated to LIFT. Joe’s thinking was that Il Toro/the bull is the symbol of Turin – a major city in the Piedmonte area of northern Italy. It is a region of Italy from which many Clinton’s Italian immigrants came. The historical significance of the bull is that bulls saved the city from a French invasion in 1706. They blocked the tunnels of the mines leading into the city until Pietro Micca could ignite gunpowder to collapse the tunnels. He was severely injured and died as a result. After his death, the steps were bricked over and are to this day.
Immigrant Square has been a favorite spot of parents, children, and now grandchildren. Come share their experience!