Approximately 500 curiosity-seekers, most utilizing their beloved smartphone cameras, milled through the Mace Building late Thursday afternoon to check out 26 extra-large Coca-Cola bottle sculptures being displayed together for the only time.
The creatively painted sculptures, unveiled during a preview party as part of the Root Family Public Art Project, will next go to their respective sponsors, where they’ll be on display for the indefinite future.
All 27 sculptures (one wasn’t ready for display Thursday), each standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 60 pounds, were decorated by Wabash Valley artists after being created by Fiberglass Animals and Objects of Seward, Nebraska. Scott's Custom Colors handled all of the clear-coating, said Susan Tingley, director of development for the Vigo County Historical Society and one of the event’s organizers.
One viewer, Sister Theresa Clare from the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, went to see the bottle painted in part by her friend, Sister Jody O’Neil, for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. But Clare also enjoyed taking in the other sculptures.
“This is just so unique,” she said. “It tells the history of Terre Haute in a pleasant, joyful way. …The two that Jody did [for SMWC and Terre Haute Regional Airport] are my favorites.”
Kristine O’Hare, marketing manager of Baesler’s Market, said she was “very impressed” with all the work put into the display. Baesler’s sculpture was painted by Jim Shepard.
“It’s pretty interesting to look and see what people have taken from their idea of Terre Haute and put it into their design,” O’Hare mentioned.
Those involved with organizing the event were impressed by the large number of spectators.
“I’m personally excited to see so many people turn out for an event like this to celebrate the iconic [contour] Coke bottle that was designed right here in Terre Haute [in 1915],” Tingley emphasized. “It’s only 4:15 and this place is packed. This is a very popular project.”
“My impression is, this is phenomenal,” said Scott Buehler, a franchise manager for the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. out of Cincinnati.
“I’ve been working with Susan Tingley on this project for the last year and a half. Just to see it come to life is really neat. As a company, we’re super proud of everything that we’re doing with Terre Haute. I love the support that the businesses are putting behind this. Everybody’s rallying around it and it’s just really exciting.
“I’m excited about the [Vigo County History Center] museum opening up at the tail end of this year as well.”
Snacks, Coke products and a cash bar were available to those who paid $5 admission for the party Thursday.
In addition to the upcoming placement of the Coke bottle sculptures around Terre Haute, there will be a “Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle” downtown festival Sept. 22. More details on that will be announced later.