A Waterbury landmark is once again standing tall Friday afternoon a new cross was raised on the top of the Holy Land Park for thousands to see across the Naugatuck Valley.
The cross weighs 22 tons and is equipped with 5000 LED lights. It's a much-needed replacement that many have wanted for years.
“They'll have their cross back on the mountain and it will be lit,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.
The cross at I-84 and Route 8 has been a landmark since the 1950’s. Time took a toll on the original, and the last one that was put up in 2008 did not light up.
“We want people to come to Waterbury to see the cross like they used to,” O’Leary explained.
The new cross aimed to change that. It is the biggest and brightest yet, and O’Leary said the improvement here was critical.
“It’s our identifier you go all over the country and people ask where you’re from… You say, 'I'm from Waterbury'… 'Oh, that's the place with the cross on the mountain,'” he said.
O’Leary worked with Waterbury native Fritz Blasius to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the cross and the Holy Land property. Their goal was to clean up this area and restore the shrines.
“We've taken hard knocks in the past hopefully this is the beginning of some good things,” Blasius said.
This giant new addition is just the beginning. If it brings more people to the city, it could give Waterbury an economic boost for years to come.
“It will be here for a long, long time," O'Leary said. "It’s built to last forever.”
There will be an official lighting ceremony on Sunday night in Waterbury on South Elm Street at 6 p.m.