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City leaders joined Spanish dignitaries and organizers Monday to break ground on a planned equestrian statue of Spanish general Bernardo de Gálvez in downtown Pensacola.

Monday is Gálvez Day, celebrated annually in Pensacola on May 8 in recent years. Gálvez Day commemorates May 8, 1781, the day of the decisive battle between Gálvez and British forces for control of the city during the American Revolutionary War. On that day, Gálvez’s troops managed to explode the magazine at one of the three British positions atop Gage Hill, killing scores of British soldiers. The British surrendered two days later, ending 18 years of British rule in West Florida.

Pensacola city officials and Spanish dignitaries break ground on a planned statue of Bernardo de Gálvez. (City of Pensacola/Special to The Pulse)

Spearheaded by the Pensacola Heritage Foundation, the 4,000 pound life-size bronze statue of Galvez would be erected atop a fountain at Palafox and Wright streets. The first of ten statues planned by the foundation, the Gálvez statue is being sculpted by retired U.S. Navy Capt. Bob Rasmussen. A former Blue Angel, Rasmussen is an accomplished sculptor who has completed a number of bronze statutes throughout the Pensacola area, including the Tristán de Luna statue at Plaza de Luna and the World War II and Korean War memorials at Veterans Memorial Park.

A model of the planned Bernardo de Gálvez statue in downtown Pensacola. (City of Pensacola/Special to The Pulse)

Among the Spanish delegation present for the groundbreaking was Antonio Campos, mayor of Macharaviaya, Pensacola’s sister city and the village where Gálvez was born in 1746.

The $400,000 cost of the statue is being paid by a combination of state and private dollars. Organizers hope the statue will be completed by next year’s Gálvez Day.

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