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Iconic Bradenton sidewalk stones removed from outside courthouse for safekeeping

MANATEE -- The iconic footprints of some of Manatee County’s most distinguished citizens were moved from the courtyard of the historic courthouse earlier this month, officials said.

The footprints were removed about two weeks ago as part of the courthouse’s restoration project.

“They started cracking on the sidewalks, and were getting ruined, so we got them out of there,” said R.B. “Chips” Shore, Manatee County clerk of court and comptroller.

The footprints -- which number in the dozens -- were taken to the fairgrounds in Palmetto by truck, fair manager Dan West said. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office employees examined them for damage, Shore said. The sheriff’s office made about 12 casts.

West said fair directors would prefer that the footprints stay at the courthouse.

“But if that’s not possible,” West said, “a special place would be found to display them at the fairgrounds.”

Since the mid-1950s, the Manatee River Fair Association selects one person to receive the Distinguished Citizen Award, whose footprints are then engraved in cement and showcased in the courtyard of the historic courthouse. Before they were removed, the footprints -- set in slabs of concrete -- lined the sidewalk alone Manatee Avenue West.

“The footprints recognize many wonderful citizens who helped make Manatee County what it is today,” West said.

The first footprint, belonging to J. Pope Harllee, was engraved in 1956, according to the fair’s website. Patricia M. Glass was the latest distinguished citizen this year.

Besides the footprints, the fairgrounds will soon also be busy with the Manatee County Fair on Jan. 12.