While traveling along Bayshore Avenue in Sarasota, it is virtually impossible to miss the 26-foot tall statue of a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War II. Entitled “Unconditional Surrender” it is one of a series of such pieces done by J. Seward Johnson II.
As Americana – it is a true Florida Fun Travel destination and definitely deserves a stop.
Where it Originated
Many people believe it is based on the famous photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt. However, Johnson has said it is more a depiction of a lesser known image taken by Victor Jorgensen.
The original piece, made of styrofoam, first was installed in 2005 at Sarasota as part of the Sarasota Season of Sculpture show – and was only supposed to have been a short term display.
It then went on tour to San Diego and New York City.
Coming Back to Sarasota
In 2009, the statue, this time an aluminum rendering, returned to Sarasota as part of a biennial exhibit. Although it was supposed to again be a short term offering, an 88-year old veteran by the name of Jack Curran, partnered with a number of other veterans and donated it to the city.
While proponents said it easily might become “the Eiffel Tower of Sarasota,” it has been sharply criticized by some in the art world as “tacky,” “kitch” or “something that belongs in a theme park.”
Nevertheless, it is largely enjoyed by locals – many of whom try to recreate the pose for their own photos in front of the massive statue.
In April of 2012, a 62-year-old woman slammed into the base of the sculpture in her Mercedes sedan. While it did not topple it, the impact reportedly broke the sailor’s leg nearly in two. The piece had to be taken down and repaired, before being remounted on the platform on Island Park Drive.
The piece was re-installed seven months later after incurring a $125,000 repair bill.
As it stands now, the 15,000 pound aluminum depiction reportedly is able to withstand the winds from a Category 3 hurricane.
There is a small parking lot behind the statue, making it easy to access and have an up-close look at it.
By the way, for those in the southern portion of the state, there was another copy installed at Mallory Square in Key West. We consider both to be great Florida Fun Zones.
If you go, let us know – visit our Florida Fun Travel Facebook page or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please follow and like us: