Gemini Giant to make appearance at American Giants Museum

The Gemini Giant fiberglass figure will make an appearance at the American GIants Museum in Atlanta, Illinois, this weekend while en route for restoration and reinstallation at a park in Wilmington.

According to a Facebook post, the Gemini Giant will be making a pit stop at the museum before going to the ReGiants restoration shop.

The American Giants Museum Is holding its grand opening this weekend, with the installation of a Texaco Big Friend giant today and other festivities.

The Gemini Giant will be reinstalled later this summer alongside a planned Route 66 monument at the entrance to South Island Park in Wilmington, about a mile west of its former home at the closed Launching Pad Drive-In restaurant.

In March, the Joliet Area Historical Museum purchased the Gemini Giant at auction for $275,000, then donated it to the City of Wilmington. The museum used a state grant to facilitate the purchase. Launching Pad owner Holly Barker had threatened to destroy the Gemini Giant if she didn’t get $100,000 for it.

Participants in the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival earlier this month also received a glimpse of the Gemini Giant inside the city’s public works building.

The Launching Pad restaurant itself wasn’t auctioned, but most of its contents were. Its future remains uncertain.

Barker and her former business partner Tully Garrett bought the closed restaurant in 2017 and reopened it about 18 months later. They shuttered it during the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened it only sporadically.

The  Launching Pad and  Gemini Giant were inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2000. Both had been one of the biggest photo opportunities for Route 66 travelers.

John and Bernice Korelc initially opened the restaurant as a Dairy Delite in 1960. They renamed it the  Launching Pad after an expansion in 1965.

The  Gemini Giant landed there in 1965 after John Korelc saw a Muffler Man during a restaurant convention. He retired in 1986.

Morey Szczecin bought the property in 2007 after longtime owners Jerry and Sharon Gatties retired. But the restaurant struggled financially and closed in 2010 until Barker and Garrett emerged.

(Image in 2013 of the Gemini Giant at the  Launching Pad Drive-In restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois, by formulanone via Flickr)

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