TAMPA — As a bronze statue of Dick Greco was unveiled Thursday evening at a downtown spot where it will be displayed permanently, about 200 of his friends gathered to celebrate the former four-term mayor and his legacy.
But it was also a bit of a roast, with speaker after speaker zinging Greco with one-liners.
His longtime associate Ron Rotella: "If Dick was better liked and better looking and the artist had a better subject to work with, we'd be calling it 'public art' and not a statue."
Radio host Jack Harris: "They're going to change the color of the statue's hair every six months."
Mayor Pam Iorio: "I may sit there occasionally and ask for advice — and of course when I don't hear anything, that'll be okay, too."
Monsignor Laurence Higgins: "Anytime you're downtown and you're a little lonely, come down here and sit with Dick. I'm sure he'll be lonely, too. He'll be here day and night."
His wife, Linda McClintock Greco, sitting with the statue, said with a grin: "This one doesn't talk back."
The statue by local sculptor Steve Dickey, paid for with private donations, portrays the famously chummy Greco sitting on a bench with an outstretched arm. It is displayed at a glass-domed streetcar station, part of his legacy. The system began operating in 2002, and the station is now called Greco Plaza.
Greco, 74, was first elected mayor in 1967. At age 34, he was the nation's youngest big city mayor. He served from 1967-1974 and again from 1995 to 2003.
The statue portrays him in his 50s, about halfway between his two stints in the city's top job.
During the ceremony, Tampa poet laureate James Tokley read from his poem that's on a plaque beside the statue: "Here sits a common man who has dreamed and done uncommon things."
At the end of the tribute/roast, Greco said, "I realize the greatest thing in life is your friends."
He also joked: "It kind of feels funny to have something read like you're already dead."
Staff writer Amy Scherzer contributed to this report. Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3435.