SARASOTA - Back in April, a woman driving a car crashed into the base of the popular ‘Unconditional Surrender’ statue along the Sarasota bayfront. The crash compromised the structural integrity of the statue, so it was shipped back to the artist in New Jersey for repairs. And after a brief delay, it's back home.
The statue isn't quite 100% just yet, but it’s in better shape than it was the day it got hit by that Mercedes.
And the response from people coming by to watch it be re-installed Tuesday has been elation. People say they have been missing this statue, and that a drive down that stretch of U.S. 41 just wasn't the same without seeing the iconic kiss.
"The Pentagon building was built in eleven months. I don't know why it would take seven months to fix a statue."
"I didn’t think it was going to come back until 2013, so it was a great sight to see when it was going up."
Engineers started working early Tuesday morning connecting seams inside the iron statue while using two cranes to hoist it upright.
"I’m thinking great, it’s finally coming back. I mean since I've moved here -- I've been here about ten years -- and it’s just great to see every time I come down here."
Brad Evans drives by there every day, and says a ride down Tamiami Trail just wasn't the same without the statue's trip down memory lane. “To have it gone for good would have been tough, because people have a lot of memories from it and pictures from it."
The project drew plenty of onlookers, all relieved that the sailor and his sweetheart were home again, safe and sound.
"I'm glad they made the stockings white again; she never would have worn anything but white stockings."
"People from all over the world come to admire the statue, and I'm happy to know it’s back."
The statue is based on the famous pictures taken in Times Square on V-J, August 14, 1945. In a twist of historic irony, engineers say everything should be finished and back to normal there this Friday, December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.