30th and final whirligig installed: Vollis Simpson’s ‘Guitar Man’ now strumming over Whirligig Park

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The 30th restored whirligig was installed Monday at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

Volunteers added the Christmas tree portion of the piece late Monday afternoon.

“With Guitar Man going up, there is nothing better than seeing the absolute last piece go up,” said Juan Logan, park conservation manager. “It’s been seven years of working on these pieces and it is exciting. It’s great to see it done and I am confident that the citizens of Wilson and surrounding communities will love it, at least that is what I am imagining.”

Logan said there are a few smaller ancillary features that will be hung on various pieces in the park, but with the addition of Guitar Man, the park will be complete in time for its grand opening and ribbon-cutting Thursday and the North Carolina Whirligig Festival this Saturday and Sunday in Wilson.

“It’s a nice piece, because it closes in the park, the lawn area and all that. It circles it nicely and it feels complete,” Logan said.

According to Larry “Sam” Price, a volunteer who has spent countless hours restoring Simpson’s windmills, there is a sense of achievement in seeing Guitar Man go up.

“It seems really nice after such a long time. It’s nice to start seeing it all come together, especially this, being four pieces in one. Being the last one here right next to the stage, it makes a difference to me,” Price said. “I’ve enjoyed doing them, but I also want to see it in the park too.”

Guitar Man sits atop three poles, one of which is actually three poles bound together as one in the center.

There are two cross members that had to be welded into place Monday after the poles were stood up.

“It’s so complex, the bolt pattern, you can’t line everything up on the ground.,” Price said. “You have to put it up and then weld the connecting poles between them so we can have the other pieces mounted on them also. It will all tie together, plus it will also support each other and make it stronger.”

The guitar man is the main part and he is basically sitting halfway.

“He’s about 22 feet from his feet down,” Price said. “He plays the guitar and pats his foot. Above his head is an Esso sign with an 18-foot propeller on the front of it and then when you come to the right side of it, there is an extra pole with what we call a Christmas tree on it.”

The Christmas tree part had to be elevated higher than the original configuration.

“We did for the purpose of getting it up off the ground,” Price said. “When it was on Mr. Vollis’ farm, he was actually under the guitar man, but if it was under the guitar man, it would be on the ground and people would be tempted to climb on it.”

The newer arrangement is for sturdiness and support.

Volunteers had to mount the main fan blade twice. When they tried it the first time last week, they found that the blade would not turn without coming into contact with its mount.

“We elevated the bottom of the fan blade just with the movement of two bolts. We pulled it out 9 inches and drilled two holes and put it back together,” Price said. “It’s not anything that will take away from his piece, but it makes it functional. It swings free now.”

Thursday’s dedication will be at 4 p.m. at the park located at the corner of Goldsboro and South streets.