Pompano approves Barefoot Mailman statue for bridge

Pompano Beach is looking to honor its history with a sculpture that pays homage to its original mail carriers.

A bronze Barefoot Mailman statue is in the works for the city's newly renovated Hillsboro Inlet bridge.

The bridge has received a series of upgrades by the Florida Department of Transportation, and the city has been working with the agency on aesthetic enhancements.

"The bridge design and artwork were inspired by two significant historical icons of this area — the first being the Hillsboro Beach Lighthouse which was originally constructed in 1906 and is today prized by Pompano Beach, Hillsboro Beach and Lighthouse Point. The second is the Barefoot Mailman," said Jennifer Gomez, the city's assistant development services director, via email.

The legend of the Barefoot Mailman dates to the original mail carrier route for South Florida during the late 19th century. Nearly 28 miles of the route was traversed by boat and by walking along sand as there was no road connecting the areas at the time. It was referred to as the "barefoot route."

The statue, which will rest atop a nearly 21-foot concrete pedestal, will cost about $75,000. Artist Mario Chiodo, of Napa, Calif., was selected to create the sculpture by a city committee, and the selection was recently ratified by city commissioners. Chiodo was one of 24 artists who submitted a bid, three of whom were chosen to submit scale models of their ideas.

There's no timeline set yet for completion, but city officials say the statue will help provide an eye-catching gateway into the city.

"The selected artwork is inventive, and the detail and accessories help to capture a moment in time and continue to tell the story of the Barefoot Mailman," Gomez wrote. "The selection was made for its expression, dynamic form, movement, craftsmanship and attention to detail."

Joe Rondone can be reached at jrondone@tribune.com.

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