Fifty years on, Big Nickel shines brightly -by Ryan Byrne (Sudbury Star – July 23, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Arguably Sudbury’s most iconic image, the Big Nickel, celebrated its 50th birthday Tuesday, drawing hundreds of people to the monument to welcome in its golden anniversary.

The event kicked off at noon with a full day of live music, activities for all ages, and celebrations of what it means to be a Sudburian.

At 1 p.m. Mayor Marianne Matichuk decreed July 22nd to henceforth be Big Nickel Day. People young and old celebrated with face painting, gold panning, live music from local artists including Chicks with Picks and Larry Berrio and more, with the event wrapping up with a fireworks display late last night.

The Blue Saints Drum and Bugle Corps performed at the start of the event, in honour of their group, which performed at the unveiling of the nickel 50 years ago.

“Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Big Nickel was really important to us, it’s a big milestone and we’re the keepers of this iconic landmark in Sudbury,” said Dynamic Earth senior manager Julie Moskalyk. “We’re pretty proud to be able to celebrate the Big Nickel like this with the entire community.”

“Fifty years ago, the Sudbury region was a pretty black, barren rock area so the Big Nickel was one of the first ways that Sudbury started to draw tourists,” Moskalyk said. “Today it’s one of the top 10 roadside attractions and it’s a part of a significant tourism draw to the Greater Sudbury region.”

“What’s Sudbury all about? Nickel,” she continued. “We’re the nickel mining capital of the world so what better way to commemorate that than with a big nickel? So, for me personally, it commemorates our mining heritage, the science of isolating nickel and the great scientific work that continues to happen today.”

All the festivities aside, a large focus of the event was to pay tribute to the creative inspiration of the monument, Ted Szilva, who co-authored a book along with his son that they released yesterday, entitled The Big Nickel: The Untold Story.

“A lot has happened over the last 50 years,” said Szilva. “The task of creating such a project had its own challenges, the most questions in the last 50 years have been, by whom, and how and where was the Big Nickel built. That’s why my son Jim and I collaborated and wrote (the book) that contains all the answers anyone might ask.

“A lot of things have changed (since the monument was created), but things have to keep changing because if nothing changes then people stop coming — you need to have perpetual growth,” he added. “I’m very grateful for everyone who came to celebrate.

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