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'Unconditional Surrender' kissing statue returns to Sarasota

7:39 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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A newly repaired "Unconditional Surrender" is moved into place, more than 7 months after a car drove into it.
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Sarasota, Florida -- People living in Sarasota got their Colossal Kiss back on Tuesday.

The "Unconditional Surrender" statue was damaged in a car accident back in April, but seven months and $125,000 in repairs later, the aluminum artwork has returned.

Photo Gallery: Car crashes into Sarasota "kissing" sculpture

Officials estimate it will take about three days to get it back in place, and not everyone is thrilled to have it back.

If anyone was happy to see the 27-foot aluminum casting back in town, it was likely the man who helped bring it here in the first place: Jack Curran.

Curran, a war veteran, ponied-up half a million of his own money in 2010 to place the nostalgic statue at Sarasota's Marina Jack.

"It's not so much about the statue, it's for what the statue represents," Curran said Tuesday as workers placed the statue back in its place.

In April, a woman driving a Mercedes ran into the landmark, which is a replica of that iconic photo taken in Times Square at the end of World War II of a sailor and nurse kissing.

The damage to the sculpture was bad enough that it had to be shipped back to New Jersey for repair.

"One leg was completely broken in half, so they had to cast new pieces and weld them back in," said Jon Dowd, whose local studio is helping with the re-installment.

Between the driver's insurance and a donation from a Sarasota non-profit, the $125,000 patch project was completed.

Still, getting the statue back to Sarasota was no easy task. It weighs about 15,000 pounds, had to be split it into two pieces and carried on two huge flatbeds.

"It's something to have here. I mean... art is art," said Judy Warner, a part-time resident.

But there are those who feel less than romantic about the romantic pose. The statue has faced criticism from the beginning, from locals who question its artistic value.

Today was no different as a handful of passers-by jeered and honked their horns while workers placed the statue back in its spot.

"Prima Donnas. Art Prima Donnas," said Dowd.

Still, the vast majority -- especially veterans like Wayne Gover, who is visiting from Ohio -- seem to love the sculpture.

"It reminds us of what we went through and hopefully we'll avoid it in the future," he said.

There is still some work to be done. Workers still must permanently bolt the statue down. Also, small but visible cracks and seams still need to be welded, caulked and painted.

Workers say it should take a couple of days.

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