Downtown park seeks whirligig sponsors

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For Stephanie Smith and her family, support for Vollis Simpson and the whirligig park has come full circle.

“When my boys were little and wanted to see everything, I’d take them out to Vollis’ place and we would walk around his shop,” Smith said. “We’d visit with him and watch him make the whirligigs.”

White’s Tractor and Truck Co. and White’s Tire Service recently sponsored the aptly named White Wind whirligig at the park.

“This park is really unique and we wanted to be a part of it,” said Steve White, CEO of both companies. “We’re a part of the history of this community, so we wanted to make a contribution on behalf of our companies.”

So far, 18 of the 30 whirligigs in the park have sponsors, but efforts are underway to get the remaining ones sponsored to cover the roughly $50,000 cost of annual maintenance.

“Sponsoring a whirligig is an incredible way to give back,” said Linda Connor. “Many of us were born in Wilson, we’ve stayed in Wilson and we’ll probably die and be buried here. Wilson is an important place to us and this is a way for us to give back.”

Sponsorship levels range from $25,000 to $125,000 and include a plaque on the whirligig in commemoration of the one-time donation. Smith was among the group that helped raise $133,000 to pay for the footings of each whirligig and the companies previously donated to the park, but the sponsorship was a way to forever honor the White family legacy.

“I think it is fabulous to have these company sponsors,” Connor said. “As a company, it is important to give back and sponsoring a whirligig shows that these people care about Wilson and support the community that supports them.”

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum Executive Director Jeff Bell said the economic impact of the park just continues as more people visit the home of North Carolina’s official folk art. In addition to the 100 events at the park, the Kinetic Connections curriculum has spread across 15 counties to incorporate the whirligigs in teaching science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“Sponsorships are very generous and are a capital investment in downtown and Wilson,” Bell said. “The return of their investment is immense for the entire community.”

Visit www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org/ to learn more about the whirligig park and to make a financial contribution.

Additional sponsor opportunities include the Carousel Bomber, Christmas Tree, Duckie 2, Horse Driving Duck, N.C. State Line, Reflector Box, Satellite Tub, Tricycle Globe, Waffle and the Waving Bomber whirligigs. Naming sponsors also are being sought for the stage and green as well as the museum that will open soon in Whirligig Station.

Contact Linda Connor at 252-245-6177 or Jeff Bell at 919-423-2669 for information about sponsoring a whirligig.