Americans cling firmly to the belief that bigger is better. From super-sized food to amplifying body parts, America is hard at work at creating the most gargantuan version of anything and everything imaginable. Creating large roadside attractions is a national pastime but not only in the U.S.
Southern California has it’s share. There’s a giant doughnut at a 50’s bakery in Long Beach, California and until recently, a towering fork in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego.
The sentinel fork was short-lived. Inspired by a Muppets movie prop, an anonymous, local retiree used his wood working skills to give his visitors a choice to turn at a literal ‘fork in the road.’. Standing tall in a triangular meridian, it soon won fame and fans. However soon humor-less, safety-minded city officials had it removed. Not to be deterred, another anonymous fork soon appeared, but this time on private land and hanging from a tree. The new gigantic suspended utensil still marks the fork in the road.
Another civic rumpus occurred a few months earlier when an artist took his knitting hobby public. He decided to beautify local stop signs with “Yarn Bombing” and the story string has been unraveling ever since. San Diego City official Bill Harris contacted the perpetrator, Bryan, through his website and told him to stop turning signs into trees. Overworked city staff may have removal on their task lists but many remain in a silent protest, delighting dog-walkers and kids on the suburban streets of the Clairemont neighborhood.
Here’s five large roadside attractions that are claiming world records:
World’s Largest Tire: Allen Park, Michigan
Even the largest new BF Goodrich tires for your colossal pickup truck have nothing on this transcendent tire. The 12 ton, 80 foot tire was originally constructed as a Ferris Wheel for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, according to RoadsideAmerica.com. It can now be viewed off of I-94 in Allen Park, Michigan, as a patriotic salute to the American automotive industry or a rolling calamity waiting to happen.
World’s Largest Garden Gnome: Poland
The past decade has seen several places relentlessly out-gnoming each other. These jolly giants are more of a lawn gnome or entire yard gnome than one that would fit in your garden. First, the town of Kerhonkson in New York held the title of World’s Largest Gnome with Gnome on the Range, also known as Gnome Chomsky outside of Kelder Farm. Iowa thought they could one-up the mere 13’6 Chomsky. Once Iowa State University introduced its pointy hatted, white bearded Elwood to its Reiman Gardens, it reigned gnome supreme at 15 feet. Not to be outdone, Poland snatched the much sought after world record from Iowa’s hands with its towering 18 foot gnome. Some still consider the Iowan gnome the largest, as the Polish gnome is constructed of fiberglass rather than the typical concrete.
World’s Largest Light Bulb: Edison, New Jersey
Someone had the bright idea to turn Edison’s luminary invention into yet another object that America could claim as world’s biggest. Suitably located in the town of Edison, this 13-foot tall light bulb commemorates the famed inventor’s revolutionary idea. The bulb sits atop a 134-foot tower that marks the site of Menlo Park laboratory where Edison brought the first commercial incandescent light bulb to fruition and yes, it does light up. We can only imagine what the electricity bill runs.
World’s Largest Santa: North Pole, Alaska
As you’d expect, Santa Claus makes his home in North Pole only this one isn’t located on top of the world, but in a quaint Alaskan town. We all know Mr. Kringle is a bit rotund around the waistline, but this version of Santa Claus really takes the cake or cookie given his excessive appetite. Weighing in at a morbidly obese 900 pounds and towering 42 feet high, the world’s largest jolly Saint Nick maintains his plump figure and never-ending Christmas spirit year-round.
World’s Largest Baseball Bat: Louisville, Kentucky
The world’s largest baseball bat, a carbon steel replica of Babe Ruth’s homer-hitting bat from the 1920’s, is located in the birthplace of the famed Louisville Slugger. The Great Bambino’s 120 foot tall, 68,000 pound replica bat has rested adjacent to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory since 1995.
We love roadside attractions like this; they add a humorous element to our road trips! We’ve seen the garden gnome in NY and the light bulb in NJ, and many others.