Thursday, August 11, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 291: See the Giant Blue Paper Clip in Spanish Fort

Spanish Fort's Giant Blue Paper Clip
If memory serves me correctly, the first time that I ever heard about Spanish Fort’s “Giant Blue Paper Clip” was in a Mobile Press-Register story by Kelly Kazek about unusual roadside attractions in Alabama. I’d been to Spanish Fort many times, but for whatever reason, I’d never lain eyes on the “Giant Blue Paper Clip,” which is sometimes also called the “Big Blue Paper Clip.” Kazek’s article sparked my curiosity so much that I put a trip to see the “Giant Blue Paper Clip” on my official “bucket list” last year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the “Giant Blue Paper Clip,” it’s a sculpture/work of art located on the northeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and U.S. Highway 31 in Spanish Fort. Made to look like a large, blue-colored paper clip, it also includes a triangular white flag that feature’s Spanish Fort’s official seal. According to sources online, it was designed and built by artist Casey Downing Jr. and dentist Barry Booth.

Last Thursday (Aug. 4), I had to take my son to a dentist appointment in Daphne, which is just south of Spanish Fort, in Baldwin County, Alabama. While on the way to the dentist, I kept my eyes open for the “Giant Blue Paper Clip” and happened to spot it when we turned off of U.S. Highway 31 onto U.S. Highway 98. On the way home, we stopped at the “Giant Blue Paper Clip,” got a close up look and snapped a few pictures of it. There were even a few geocaches nearby, and we logged those too.

On the way there, I mistakenly told my son that we were about to see the world’s largest paper clip, but a little online researched proved that to be false. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest paper clip measures 30 feet, five inches in height and eight feet, 11 inches in width, and was created by Evgeny Stepovik in Miass, Russia. It was created from stainless steel and unveiled on May 29, 2010. If I had to guess, I’d say the paper clip in Spanish Fort is about a third of the size of this Russian paper clip.

One of the biggest surprises regarding Spanish Fort’s “Giant Blue Paper Clip” for me was that I actually know dentist Barry Booth. Booth, a Vietnam War veteran, is extremely involved in veterans affairs in Southwest Alabama, and he’s heavily involved in the region’s Honor Flight program for World War II veterans. He is also good friends with my radio cohort Luther Upton, who is also a Vietnam veteran.

In addition to his many television appearances, Booth has been to Evergreen many times, and I met him several years ago when he came to Evergreen to speak during a Veterans Day ceremony. Not only did Booth help design and build the “Giant Blue Paper Clip,” but it’s also located a short walk from his dental office.

In the end, how many of you have seen the Giant Blue Paper Clip in Spanish Fort? What did you think about it? What other roadside attractions would you recommend checking out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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