BROOKSVILLE - Last Thanksgiving, Joe Curcio was rummaging in the back of the High Point community center storeroom for Christmas decorations to adorn the volunteer fire department.
Curcio, chief of the High Point Volunteer Fire Department, found an old bell he thought would look nice in front of the station house. After further inquiry, Curcio learned it was the original bell that graced the old tower that greets visitors when they enter High Point.
Curcio asked for and received permission from the homeowners' association to use the bell and mount it inside a reconstructed tower he and his volunteers planned to build in front of the station.
On Tuesday, to commemorate High Point's 40th anniversary, Curcio and the crew will hold a formal unveiling ceremony, kicking off a week of festivities.
Curcio said it cost about $2,000 of fire station funds to erect the tower and refurbish the bell. But he said it was the least he could do to give back to the community that has donated money to keep the volunteer fire department viable all these years.
"It's a big deal for the community and for the homeowners association," Curcio said. "(High Point) is still as good a place to live in as it was when it was first built. Probably even better."
Curcio moved to High Point eight years ago. Originally an all-ages community, the subdivision just west of State Road 50 and Mariner Boulevard is now for people age 55 and older and is home to about 1,650 residents.
"I'm perfectly happy here, and I'm going to die here," Curcio said. "Anything that makes High Point better makes me feel better. Our fire department runs on voluntary donations from the community so all I'm doing is giving back. It makes me feel better and makes the place look better."
The new off-white bell tower is about 10 feet tall, with two square posts on either side that turn into an arch. Curcio had to sandblast and powdercoat the original bell because it was rusty.
The original tower still stands just past the guard shack on High Point Boulevard - minus the bell and a bit weather-beaten.
Two people who plan to be at Tuesday's unveiling will be Jim and JoAnne Stuck, who moved to High Point when it debuted 40 years ago. Now president of the community's social club, Jim Stuck remembers standing in front of High Point and looking at a two-lane State Road 50.
"Between here and Brooksville, the only thing was the Frontier Campground," said Stuck, referring to the still-open facility about five miles east. "Nothing but trees, open prairie and grassland," Stuck said.
In 1974, Stuck said he did not envision State Road 50 being a six-lane highway lined with chain stores and restaurants.
Stuck, 84, a former captain of the High Point Volunteer Fire Department, said he has not seen the refurbished bell and can't wait for Tuesday's unveiling.
"We love it here," he said. "We've never thought about going anyplace else. We've got everything here - golf course, tennis, all the amenities like any city."
Deputy High Point Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Kanner said Tuesday is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of all involved.
"All the efforts on behalf of the High Point Volunteer Fire Department to rebuild this bell tower and restore the bell is a way we're giving back to those who supported us year round," Kanner said. "The High Point community is a very giving community, and this is one way we can show our appreciation.
High Point's 40th anniversary celebration will kick off with a free pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the High Point Fire Station. The bell tower unveiling is at 10 a.m. The events are only for residents of High Point.