When you visit the Heritage Day events Saturday, one display will hold extra meaning for New Britain residents. A booth will be dedicated to the great works of New Britain resident Anthony T. Bianca Sr. who passed away nearly two years ago at the age of 92.
Bianca played in the 1938 New Britain High School National Football Championship.
Then, he went into the army as a Staff/Tech Sergeant and was an expert on weapons.
“He was very much dedicated to the military,” said his son Anthony Bianca Jr. “He was at the Battle of the Bulge.”
He served under General George Patton in the 3rd army 87th infantry 345th division and received a Purple Heart among a dozen other medals.
When World War II was finished, Bianca became involved in several organizations.
“He organized the Veteran’s Commission and so on. From there it was a natural spin into politics,” said Bianca. “When you get involved in federal government, you go from there to local government and the state and so on. Over the years he built a lot of friendships and a lot of alliances.”
That led to a lot of changes with many of them happening in New Britain. Bianca is responsible for a big voter registration drive that gave the Democratic Party the majority in the City around September 23, 1963.
“All the factory owners were Republican in New Britain. This was a Republican town until my father got involved,” said Bianca. “He put on a tremendous voter registration drive and turned it into a Democratic town. The lack of treatment of employees after WWII and recognition inspired him to do this.”
Bianca tried to build a Veteran’s Memorial Arena where NewBrite Plaza is located.
“They needed $1½ million but he could not get the support,” his son said. “That was one of his most bitter disappointments.”
Bianca was a hard worker. He worked in a slaughter house, at Fafnirs, sold encyclopedias door to door and sold cars.
“He was gone before I woke up and was not home by the time I went to bed,” recalls Bianca Jr.. “He was a conscientious person and wanted to work hard, be dedicated to his family and be a good provider.”
One of things on display will be campaign buttons from people like Adliai Stevenson.
“When I was a kid I was a runner and my father was at campaign headquarters,” said Bianca. “Over the years he has known presidents, senators, congressmen and more. He served on the Democratic National Committee.”
Bianca ran the campaign for John Glenn when he ran for president.
“He knew everybody,” said Bianca Jr.. “He liked the guys he thought was good for the country regardless of party.”
On display will be many historic photos of great political figures including Chris Dodd, John Glenn, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Bill O’Neil, Toby Moffitt, Ella Grasso, Jimmy Carter, Abraham Ribicoff, many New Britain Mayors and other influential people.
“The reason I want this story told on Heritage Day is, its public history,” said Amy Kirby, New Britain Historical Society Director. “This is the core of public history. He lived in your community. He was around on a daily basis. Look at this fascinating story a lot of people would not know about.”
Bianca owned ATB construction and renovated the Burritt Hotel in 1994. His construction firm was also responsible for Franklin Square, the Burritt House and he owned Cor-West Plaza.
“He was a fabric of the society,” said Bianca Jr.. “I revered and respected him. It is time he got the recognition which he deserves. He had a lot of detractors from the other side and did not make life easy from him, but he was a tough guy. He could take it. Hopefully people will understand what a good, remarkable person he was.”
The Bees’ Knees will take place in downtown New Britain on May 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held indoors due to rain in the forecast at the Anvil Building and at City Hall in Room 504.
It will feature 260 Years of New Britain’s History in the Hive! It is a free Heritage Day event for residents to participate in or attend, to celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of New Britain.
The event is sponsored by the New Britain City Journal, American Savings Foundation, The Travelers Championship, Mutual Housing Assoc. of Greater Hartford, Mr. & Mrs. Anthony T. Bianca, Tom Baxer Music and The New Britain Municipal Employees Communitry Services Assoc.
For more information contact the New Britain Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-249-3314.