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Nearly $40K slated to preserve severed tail of West Hartford's Conny the Whale

A worker with a concrete saw gives the thumbs up while cutting into the tail of 20-ton Conny The Whale April 11, 2023, at the Children's Museum in West Hartford, CT.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
A worker with a concrete saw gives the thumbs up while cutting into the tail of 20-ton Conny The Whale April 11, 2023, at the Children's Museum in West Hartford, CT.

A 25-foot-long whale tail weighing more than two tons is now sitting in storage in West Hartford. Earlier this year, Conny the Whale was demolished to make way for a new housing development. But the tail was preserved. Conny sat outside the former site of The Children’s Museum for decades.

On Friday, state leaders announced $38,000 from Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will fund the next phase of the tail’s life.

The money will be used to relocate the tail to the Trout Brook Greenway, according to Cetacean Society International, which led the effort to construct Conny the Whale in 1976. The move would place the tail roughly across the street from the statue’s former location.

"I want to thank the Cetacean Society International for being the driving force behind this project to keep CONNY's legacy alive and inspire generations to come," Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said in a statement. "I was proud to work with the West Hartford legislative delegation and DECD to ensure this funding made it to the finish line."

Conny was sawed apart in April. Dan Barstow, son of Rob Barstow who created Conny, recalled the sculpture’s construction and the tremendous detail that went into the work.

“Many people were there, all these volunteers who were building the wooden frame and putting the iron rods to shape it,” Barstow said. “We had an engineer, whale experts, all designed to have all the proportions correct. We put the cement on by hand and then colored it this natural color.”

After the tail was severed, it was loaded onto a truck and transported to a storage facility in West Hartford.

The new state funding, along with $12,000 raised from the GoFundMe, will cover most of the next phase of the project, including permits to install the tail as a sculpture and educational installation, which are currently in progress with the town.

Connecticut Public’s Abigail Brone contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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