On this sunny day in June, about 50 people gather in the Town Hall of Griswold in Jewett City to honor a very special and loved man, Alphonse Basilicato. About half of those are members of Al’s family coming from all around. The other people are town officials, store keepers in Jewett City and residents. Why all this hubbub? Who is Al anyway?
“Every single day in Jewett City, Al Basilicato pushes his cart through our streets using his broom and shovel to pick up any debris he finds. No one ever asks Al to do this. He just does it. Ususally three times a day he is out there, and because of him, our streets never looked so clean! He doesn’t expect to get a dime for his work. Al has been doing this for over ten years now,” explains Alan Greer, Burgess, Town of Griswold, “Today we take the time to honor him and thank him in a special way. We should have done this a long time ago.”
During the ceremony that takes place in the Town Hall, First Selectman Philip Anthony, Town of Griswold, Representative Steven Mikautel, 45th District, and Alan make short speeches and present Al with framed certificates of honor, gift certificates to stores in town and a safety vest to wear on the street.
Steven reads his presentation aloud, “In recognition of the selflessness, commitment and pride you show in helping to make this city a better place, we hearby proclaim June 12th to be hereafter known as Alphonse Basilicato Day.”
Al is also given another very special gift. He is presented with a new push cart inscribed with “Big Al” on the side, garbage can, work gloves and long handled street broom.
Everyone in the room is shaking hands with Al and giving him hugs. “I just want to make people happy,” Al beams. “That is all I want to do.”
Al’s mother, Adrian Lees, drove all the way from her home in Vermont with her husband. Adrian is so proud of her son. With tears of happiness in her eyes, she tells me, “He just wants to make people smile. That’s all he wants.”
Amazing as Al’s story is, there is more. Back in the 1980’s when Al was 19-years-old and visiting his father in Florida, he was walking along a highway with a friend. Both of them were struck by a drunk driver. His friend died and Al was left with traumatic brain injury. Al was in a coma following the accident, and his doctors did not think he would ever walk or talk again.
Anyone with questions on how they can donate and support Al Basilicato’s effort can call Alan Geer at 860. 334.5572.