V. Simpson whirligig returns to park

‘A lot of people missed’ towering sculpture

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After a month of repairs and restoration, the iconic “V. Simpson” whirligig returned Tuesday to Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

The whirligig and several attachments were hoisted into a prominent spot at the corner of Goldsboro and South streets in downtown Wilson.

“It is the longest in the park and one of the most intricate,” said Jeff Bell, executive director of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum. “It’s got so many moving parts and elements that spin and turn. It’s pretty incredible. It’s certainly one of the remembered ones that people went to see.”

The main frame for the kinetic structure was taken down July 19. It had been up for five years and was the first to be placed in the space that would become the park.

“Even before we took down the main frame, several of the elements were removed and taken to conservation and worked on and repaired,” Bell said. “Since the main frame has come down, you will see all new bicycle rims, all of the reflectors have been replaced.

Some of the elements have been re-welded. On all of it, the paint has been touched up. I think it will look quite different to visitors who are used to seeing it the way it used to look before.”

The whirligig is one of 30 Vollis Simpson creations permanently featured in the park. They are maintained by a nonprofit and supported by donations.

“Almost all of these were completed by the mid-’80s or so,” Bell said.

Bell said there aren’t any current plans to remove any other whirligigs for repair.

“We will start to look at our maintenance schedule and see what needs attention,” Bell said.

The park has had growing visitation since officially opening Nov. 2.

With its size and place on the corner over the sign for the park, the absence of the “V.Simpson” whirligig left a hole.

“When you remove something that big with so much going on, it makes a big difference visually,” Bell said. “It is one of the most favorite ones, so not having it here, I think a lot of people missed it.”