You probably wouldn’t give Casey, Illinois a second thought. It’s a very small town (population 2,635) not conveniently located in the East-Central part of the state. In fact, it’s a hundred miles closer to Indianapolis than Chicago.
But Casey is definitely worth your time. Guinness World Records has certified eight items in little Casey as the largest in the world. Drive there, park your car and follow the handy signs to see them for yourself.
There are 12 “World’s Largest” objects, plus another 12 “Big” objects in Casey, Illinois. Most are outdoors; the ones that are inside shops are placed next to windows, so you can still get a good peek.
Casey needed some pizazz, BIG time!
Pizazz: An American slang word from the 1930s that means “the energy, style, or flair that makes something dazzling or exciting. It’s that extra element that makes something really pop or sparkle.”
Casey, Illinois had zero pizazz. Jim Bolin, a local businessman and lifelong resident of Casey, wanted to change that. But how, exactly, do you convince people to get off the interstate highway? He needed a BIG idea.
And Jim came up with one. Literally.
Behold the World’s Largest Wind Chime
A man on a mission, Jim Bolin started in 2011 with a wind chime. Using recycled materials, he and his crew constructed the 55-foot-tall wind chime, with 48 feet of working chimes. (His company, Bolin Enterprises, was hired to remove and discard old telephone poles. Instead of destroying them, he decided to repurpose them. Old pipes and obsolete oil tanks are used, too.)
Step right up and pull the rope to ring the chimes. Look up and you’ll notice symbols of Christianity (the fish) and Judaism (the Star of David). A plaque at the base of chimes reads:
“In our little town
Many records were set
To make this a place
That is hard to forget…”
The wind chimes made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012. Whitling Whimsy Cafe, another Bolin endeavor, sits next to the wind chimes. “Doing our best to give our guests a fresh, hand-crafted, and friendly dining experience.” The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, Monday-Saturday. At some point during your tour, stop and sign the Casey Guest Book, outside the cafe.
The World’s Largest Rocking Chair!
It’s impossible to miss the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. You’ll see it before the wind chimes. One foot taller than the chimes, it weighs over 40,000 pounds. It’s one of the few attractions that can’t be climbed or used, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
Some years there’s a raffle, with the winner getting the chance to sit in the rocker. I’m betting one of the fire department’s ladders is involved. If the raffle tickets are on sale when you’re there, spring for the $5. It’s also a fundraiser.
Keep going–there’s plenty to see!
It’s not hard to spot “The World’s Largest” objects, but Casey provides a handy printable map so you don’t miss anything. (A few require getting back into your car, but they’re not far away.)
My favorite BIG thing was the mailbox. Climb the stairs to get a view of the town. There’s even an official mail slot at the top to post your letters. Even better, when an outgoing piece of mail is dropped into the slot, a red flag on the side pops up. This is the Real Deal!
From the mailbox, get a view of other attractions to visit when you’re back on solid ground:
Across the street from the mailbox is the gilded bird cage. Channel your inner Tweety Bird–climb in and have a swing on the perch.
Twitter fans: Send an authentic “tweet” from here!
Directly behind the mailbox is Casey’s Candy Depot, with a special “Kid’s door” for little ones to enter. The store (formerly an oil rig maintenance building) is at the site of the Doty Railroad, which ran through Casey from 1890 to 1938 on a track that was 30 inches wide. A stretch of original tracks now hold a flat car with 55-gallon barrels of ice cream toppings. Inside the store: the World’s Largest Wooden Shoes! Weighing 2,500 pounds, and 11 feet 5 inches long, toss a coin in one of them for good luck…and to help the local food pantry.
Who doesn’t love a candy store? This one has 40 kinds of taffy, 12 kinds of fudge, oodles of chocolates, popcorn, Jelly Bellys, and your childhood favorites.
An ice cream stand is a few steps away, directly next to the mailbox.
Very important: Public restrooms are in this mailbox/candy store area.
You’ll grin like a little kid next to these objects. No need to be shy or embarrassed–when I was there, adults were having more fun than the children. Down the street from the pencil is a 36-foot-long yardstick. A little farther, a huge Minion welcomes you into a store.
The bookworm outside the library is made from junk pipe that Jim Bolin kept for over 20 years, waiting for inspiration. It doesn’t qualify as as “World’s Largest,” but makes a mighty fine addition to the library’s lawn:
There’s something on every street
Casey, Illinois covers just a few blocks, so wander freely. Part of the fun is turning a corner and discovering something new:
A giant top outside a charming vintage/collectible store. A 26-foot-tall replica of Jim Bolin’s Chevy truck key (World’s Largest, of course) is down the same block as the World’s Largest Barber Pole.
But wait! There’s more!
Return to your car and follow the signs for a couple of miles northeast. Your first stop is at the Casey Country Club to see…what else? The World’s largest Golf Tee!
Continue down the same road to Richards Farm, a farm with a thriving restaurant in what was once the Richards family’s barn. Next to the restaurant you’ll find the World’s Largest Pitch Fork, a full 60 feet long.
Come anytime! And it’s all free!
The outdoor objects are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the shops with objects are closed, you can still get a good look through the windows.
Be aware that Casey pretty much shuts down on Sundays. (Richards Farm is open for lunch and dinner.) The upside: fewer tourists and easy parking. The downside: the cute shops and the Whitling Whimsy Cafe are closed.
As you leave Casey, Illinois, notice…
More “local” fun? Sure!