I have long been fascinated with the over-sized people & objects standing ominously beside the road and in front of grocery stores. Here are some of Southern Illinois’ finest;
One of my earliest memories of these roadside giants is of Big John. The one pictured is in Eldorado. But there are a whole fleet of them around the area including Carmi, West City & Metropolis. There used to be one in Benton too, but they auctioned it off (count me shocked & appalled). it now resides somewhere in West Virginia. For the record, there’s no way I would let that guy bag or carry my groceries!
Speaking of Metropolis; everyone knows that it’s the home of Superman, right? Well, thankfully they decided to commemorate that fact with a giant likeness of the Man of Steel.
The original was only seven feet tall, made of fiberglass, and more closely resembled Andy Kaufman in his wrestling gear. Locals used it for target practice, perhaps to see if he really was impervious to bullets; but alas, he was not. The current version is stronger, taller, & at least a little more accurate.
Let us not forget the ladies either! Mt Vernon’s “Stan the Tire Man” boasts the beautiful Uniroyal Gal holding… a tire! I’m not sure what she’s doing with her left hand; maybe praying to the Giant God to help her meet a nice Big John type of guy. Maybe.
Another of my favorites is one I just recently rediscovered on my way to Annual Conference last month on I-55.
It’s a young, giant swimmer dude standing outside of the “Pink Elephant Antique Mall” in Livingston. There is (of course) a giant pink elephant outside too, as well as a giant Muffler Man & Jolly Green Giant inside the mall, but the swimmer is my favorite part. Partially because he looks so out of place. What does swimming have to do with buying antiques? I thought at first that maybe the building used to be a public pool or something, but I was wrong. It’s actually an old High School, which makes even less sense.
There are many other over-sized attractions in this part of the state including (but not limited to) a giant bottle of catsup, water towers painted to look like a giant smiley face and a golf ball on a tee, and the infamous Bald Knob Cross (which is currently falling down due to disrepair).
Thanks to RoadsideAmerica.com for many of the pictures & some of the information!