Cartoonist E.C. Segar was born in Chester, Illinois in 1894 and he is remembered in the town by a still-in-progress series of statues cataloging every major character from his beloved Popeye universe.
Starting of course with a bronze statue of the titular sailor himself that has stood in the city of Chester for more than 30 years, the local businesses and government have been adding to their animated menagerie since 2006. The first addition was a statue of burger-loving Wimpy, followed the very next year by the trio of Olive Oyl, Swee’ Pea, and the “Jeep.” A Bluto character statue was later installed just outside of a parking lot, and then a series of increasingly obscure characters such as Castor Oyl and The Sea Hag, followed closely behind. The statues are generally unveiled during the yearly Popeye Picnic.
The character trail is still a work in process and the collection will assumedly continue to grow until each character from the long-running strip is represented. The citizens of Chester hope that their whimsical stone figures will strengthen the city’s tourism industry with as much vigor as spinach strengthens Popeye.