First off, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.
Today, a rocking chair that’s 46 feet tall was set up on old Route 66 four miles west of Cuba, Mo. It’s next to the Fanning U.S. 66 Outpost & General Store in the tiny settlement of Fanning.
According to the news release, the big chair was the idea of Fanning Outpost owner Dan Sanazaro:
What better way to garner attention than a 46-foot wood and steel rocking chair in the traditional Route 66 colors of black and white? Sanazaro thought it would be like one of the old Route 66 roadside attractions that drew travelers to businesses in the past.
To make his dream a reality, Sanazaro turned to local artist, soon-to-be engineer John Bland. Bland, who isn’t afraid of a challenge, drew a sketch of the chair and then drew the blue prints to scale. He took his plans to a civil engineer, who ran the plans through computer software to test the engineering specifications. Although Bland had no formal training as an engineer, his plans were off only by a fraction of an inch. With adjustments made, Sanazaro and Bland were ready to bring a builder on board.
For this step of the process, Sanazaro turned to long-time friend Joe Medwick, who had the equipment and know-how to make the rocking chair a reality.
First, Medwick fabricated the rockers, which are 31 ½ feet long and weigh about 2,000 pounds each. He moved the rockers to the Outpost and constructed the rest of the rocking chair there using eight- and 11-inch steel pipe. Medwick measured, cut, and welded the frame on site with the frame lying on the ground. Bland painted the Outpost logo, “Route 66 Rocker,” and “World’s Largest” on a wooden panel that serves as the rocker back. Painting mitts were used to prime the frame white, and a coat of black paint followed.
On April 1, two cranes were summoned to lift the frame onto the rockers. With the crowd watching in fascination, the large frame moved through the air to the steel rockers. After some final adjustments and cutting, and with sparks flying, Medwick made the final welds.
So there it is. Sanazaro indeed took a page from the old-time Route 66 businesses — get a gimmick so people will come to your door.
And, yep, it looks like Sanazaro’s chair is a lot bigger than the other rocking chair that claims to be the world’s largest.
The Fanning Outpost’s Web site is still mostly under construction, but its phone number is 573-885-1474. The address is listed as 5957 Old Route 66.
UPDATE: I e-mailed Sanazaro and asked him how heavy the chair is and whether it could actually be rocked. His reply:
In regards to your first question, it’s a secret for now, ha ha. Our grand opening will be May 10th, and whoever can guess the weight of the chair, or get the closest, will win something. (The prize is actually a secret, too, but it is nice!!!) So … we wont release that info until after that date.
The chair, as it sits right now is stationary. However when Guinness comes, we will just cut it loose, rock it, and then it will be secured again. Too dangerous to leave it rock.
The Fanning Outpost is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
UPDATE2: Here’s a story and video from KSDK-TV in St. Louis. Money quote:
“Well, if this goes over good maybe we’ll build the world’s largest picnic table over here,” Dan says.
UPDATE3: Here’s a YouTube video of the big day the chair was put in place.
(Photos courtesy of Jane Reed.)