The Town of Lady Lake will celebrate the ribbon cutting of Snooky Park, named for Atticus “Snooky” Blanton, who was lost on the USS Arizona in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The event will be held on Thursday, June 29 at 10 a.m. at 120 W. Lady Lake Blvd.
The new park is a natural preserve with a 2,000-foot walking trail, surrounded by a canopy of cedar, live oaks, water oaks and palm trees. It features amenities such as picnic shelters, water fountains and restrooms.
“Snooky Park is a long-awaited passive recreation facility in the Town of Lady Lake,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Burske. “We are fortunate to have the support of the Commission to help us preserve this beautiful and historic area of Lady Lake.”
Atticus “Snooky” Blanton was born on Dec. 20, 1920 in Fort Myers and grew up among family in Lady Lake. At age 18, during the Great Depression, he found himself without job experience and decided to join the Navy. In 1940, he enlisted and his early letters home talked about his good fortune in being assigned to the USS Arizona, which was docked in California.
“Snooky,” then a Shipfitter 3rd Class, told his family that his ship was sailing to Pearl Harbor.
What he did not know was that on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan would order an attack on the Navy base and ships at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Arizona was struck by eight armor-piercing bombs. It is thought that most of the Arizona’s crew members died instantly during the explosion. More than 1,100 sailors and Marines were lost along with the ship.
Snooky’s 16-year-old sister, Patricia, was in the Lady Lake Methodist Church that life-altering Sunday completing plans for the annual Christmas program. She was interrupted by the devastating news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Ten days later, Snooky’s mother, Annie Lottie Blanton, sat upright and stared into the sunset after receiving the telegram from the War Department. It read: “Your son Atticus Lee Blanton is missing in action.” A month later, a second telegram arrived, which read the same as the first, but continued with “and presumed dead.”