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The mules are hitched up and ready to ride from their perch high atop a 45-foot whirligig. Mule Train has taken its spot near the corner of South and Lodge streets at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.
The whirligig is one of the largest in the park and includes mules pulling a wagon with a man at the reins. The entire piece weighs around 15,000 pounds, according to Juan Logan, park conservation manager.
On Thursday morning, employees of Edwards Inc. and Stancil Sign and Lighting Service used a crane to place the colorful propeller into place. By afternoon, they were ready for the mules and wagon.
Several people gathered at the park Thursday to watch the work. Some sat in their vehicles; others found a good vantage point in the park where they could watch and take photos.
David Proctor said he had been going to the park for the last six months to watch the progress. He’s excited about the opening Nov. 2.
Jimmy Gardner, who was with Proctor, was taking it all in as well.
“I think it’s going to be amazing,” he said of the park. “Take a pile of rust and make something out of it.”
The mules in Mule Train are replicas are Simpson’s original version that stood in a pasture on his Lucama farm. Some of Simpson’s windmills were beyond repair and had to be replicated rather than restored.
The original Mule Train will be in the park’s museum, according to Henry Walston, president of the park and museum board of directors. Walston was at the park Thursday morning watching the activity.
The Nov. 2 grand opening and ribbon-cutting starts at 4 p.m. and will include comments by local and state officials. Gov. Roy Cooper has been invited, and Secretary of Cultural Resources Susi Hamilton is expected to speak.
The public is also invited.
The grand opening will include activities for the family, food trucks and music by Fireside Collective on the raised stage.
The park opens just two days before the annual North Carolina Whirligig Festival in downtown Wilson.
The park is a joint effort of the city of Wilson, the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum and Wilson Downtown Properties.