Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Naff tourist attractions of our time: Presidents Park
The site of a collection of gigantic white heads in a wooded glade was enough for me to cut across a few lanes of traffic clutching my camera, almost causing a six vehicle pile up.
Presidents Park closed down last September when it ran out of money. I assumed it had been there for decades but apparently it only opened up as a tourist attraction in 2006.
In presidential terms it would be William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States who decided not to wear a coat or hat when he took the oath of office on a rainy day and made a two hour speech. A month later he died of pneumonia.
As one reader rather drily described Presidents Park beneath an article describing its demise it was like "Easter Island for the lame."
Apparently there are 43 giant busts in the park and that of the 44th president lies unfinished in a workshop somewhere.
Owners of the park said failure to secure the 44th bust was a tipping point, and the Obama statue, would have been a huge boon to the business, possibly even saving the park.
Oh really. It's not as if Barack Obama is ever on TV is it?
The mind boggles about what the park's owners are going to do with these giant busts. It's not your average member of the public who will say: "Forget the garden gnome Mavis. Let's get a 20 foot high bust of James Polk for the rockery."
Ever since the Griswalds went on the hunt for the world's largest ball of string, I've been somewhat fascinated by America's strangest and naffest tourist attractions, not to the point of obsessing at 4 a.m. or anything.
The string ball was fiction but apparently the world's largest twine ball can be seen in Darwin, Minnesota. When in Minnesota and all that, I guess.
More correctly it's known as the "World's Largest Twine Ball Rolled By One Man" because a rival twine ball in Cawker City, Kansas, is regularly added-to by visitors and townspeople. Darwin feels that this is cheating.
Someone should perhaps have told twine man to get a life. But obviously he didn't. Apparently the creator died of emphysema, and the townfolk figured 30 years of exposure to twine dust, did for him.
Other gems are contained in a website of the worst tourist attractions in America. They include Seattle's wall of brightly colored chewing gum, the world's largest ball of paint (sadly the world's largest hairball disintegrated, after choking a few dozen cats), The Barbed Wire Museum in Texas, The National Museum of Funeral History (another naff Texas museum), and South Dakota's Corn Palace which looks like a mosque but is a veritable shrine to corn.
You have to be a special kind of person to want to visit these places, either that or you have to live in somewhere like South Dakota.
All of which makes those busts of presidents or the tedious model villages I used to be dragged around back in England as a kid, suddenly seem like a great day out.