Groundbreaking set Thursday for Whirligig Park

Monday, October 14, 2013

Susan Kluttz, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; Randy Gore, State Director of the USDA; and Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose will join with local leaders and residents at 9 a.m. on Thursday, October 17, to celebrate the ground breaking of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park (VSWP) in Historic Downtown Wilson.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on the park site at 301 Goldsboro Street South.

Thirty-one monumental kinetic sculptures, or whirligigs, created by local, internationally renowned artist Vollis Simpson will be the centerpiece for a new world-class downtown park anchoring an industrial artisan district filled with artists’ studios, technology companies and other creative entrepreneurs that will attract both tourists and local residents. The park is a catalyst for creative economic development and will educate children and the general public about science, art and history.

As well as being the permanent home for one of our state’s great art treasures, the $7.2 million project will serve as a “community living room” featuring an amphitheater and stage, plaza, rain gardens, education shelter, flexible green space, walking trail, interactive water feature and seating. Planned programming for the park includes public and private events such as the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Downtown Alive Summer Concert Series, artist markets, educational classes, fitness activities, reunions, parties and weddings.  

Fundraising efforts so far have captured close to $3.24 million, with about $3 million more needed before the entire park can be constructed.  Jenny Moore, director of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project (VSWPP) said close to $2 million of the amount raised has come from grants including three from the National Endowment for the Arts.  

A collaboration between Wilson Downtown Properties, the City of Wilson, Wilson Downtown Development Corporation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, the park will be constructed in phases and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015.