Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Release #-018-00

Contact: Sunny Mindel/ Edward Skyler (212) 788-2958
Allan Fromberg (TLC) (212) 676-1013


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today presented cab driver Wilson Toala
with a Mayoral Citation for finding and returning the rare violin left in his taxi by Juilliard student Meesun Hong. Ms. Hong was unable to join the Mayor and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Diane McGrath-McKechnie for the Blue Room ceremony because of her rehearsal schedule.

"Wilson Toala did the honorable thing by returning this unique musical instrument to its rightful owner," Mayor Giuliani said. "He is a model cab driver; his actions speak volumes about his character and show that New Yorkers are among the most caring and compassionate people in the world. I also would like to wish his son a speedy recovery from the appendectomy he underwent earlier this week."

Commissioner McGrath-McKechnie said, "We congratulate Ms. Hong on the return of her precious violin. This happy ending joins an ever-growing list of successful reunions between irreplaceable items lost and their anxious owners, thanks to conscientious driver licensees like Mr. Toala. It is important to note that dozens of such reunions take place every day, and not only with master-crafted violins, but with more mundane items like laptop computers, cellular phones and handbags and that is why it is so important to take a receipt from your driver."

In addition to thanking the media for helping to find her violin, Meesun Hong thanked Wilson Toala for "…being so honest and helping restore not only my violin but also my faith in the humanity of New York City. She also thanked Mayor Giuliani and the people of New York City, "I am sorry I could not be here but as luck would have it, I have a rehearsal." She added, "I have never had more faith in this City as I do now. Despite all of the flack this City has gotten in the past, there are still amazing, honest, and just plain good people here, and I love it."

On the evening of Sunday, January 9, Meesun Hong, a twenty-two year- old music student at Juilliard, left her violin in the trunk of a taxi cab after riding to Herald Square where she was planning have dinner with friends. The violin, a gift from her parents was hand crafted in 1915 by Mozzani and is currently worth $40,000. On Monday, Ms. Hong offered a $500 reward to the person who found the violin.

Wilson Toala discovered the violin on later Sunday night while checking his vehicle before he began his shift. Unfortunately, Mr. Toala's son underwent an appendectomy, delaying the return of the violin until Tuesday afternoon, when Mr. Toala called radio station WADO-AM to report his find. The violin and its owner were re-united shortly afterwards, just in time so Ms. Hong and her chamber music orchestra could practice for a concert on Saturday evening.

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