Samantha statue in Salem, Mass. and the Frog Bridge in Willimantic, Connecticut. But the silly fisherman standing on the wharf here, though perhaps less dignified and celebrated than the Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester, Mass., has its own poignant story to tell of tragedy and dignity.
Back in 2000, Eastport, and neighboring Lubec, were chosen as the site for the filming of a Fox television reality miniseries. It was called “Murder in Small Town X” and the scenario was a kind of whodunit contest. This 12-foot tall fiberglass cartoonish fisherman (without the pedestal), created by Jeff Poss, was a prop to represent the fictional town.
When the filming ended in 2001, the statue remained and became a curiosity, a photo-op for tourists, and, unexpectedly, a memorial.
The winner of that short-lived reality series contest was a man named Angel Juarbe, a firefighter from New York. The show’s finale aired September 4, 2001. One week later, firefighter Angel Juarbe was killed on September 11th at the World Trade Center.
The goofy statue, intended to be temporary was kept as a tribute. It was refurbished after some deterioration when the town raised a special fund for that purpose. It was put back, its colors restored, for the July 4th festivities in 2005. Independence Day is a huge celebration in Eastport, where U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships make a port call and conduct tours.
The setting of the wharf is extraordinarily lovely, and the statue, a heart-tugging combination of silly and sad, makes remembrance bittersweet. For a better view of the refurbished statue, have a look at this website.