Erected in 2007, this giant bronze statue of Popeye stands proudly on top of a water fountain in the Popeye Park of Alma, Arkansas, a town which has dubbed itself the spinach capital of the world. It makes sense: Every April, sometime in the middle of the month, the town hosts an annual spinach festival, during which visitors are also attracted to the area’s unique water tower, a typical construction that has been painted to look like the world’s largest spinach can.
The bronze statue is relatively new, but it isn’t the first of its depiction to stand in this place. For 20 years before the funds to build a permanent fixture were raised, a Fiberglas and papier-mache model held this spot. That earlier model was much less impressive but, still, it had to be chained down so that students from the nearby high school wouldn’t try to steal it as a town prank.
“We were having a lot of tour buses stop by to look at our Popeye statue, and everybody’s laugh and they’d drive off,” Mark Yardley, Alma’s public works director and the man responsible for building the newer statue, told Roadside America. “I told the town council that we either need to get our named out of the tour guides and don’t mention this at all, or we give them something to get off and look at.”
In addition to the bronze statue, the people of Alma are working on adding two kiosks with modern flat-screen monitors that will display the town’s history and some trivia about their favorite fictional character to anybody who stops by for a visit or a picture. In addition, a large mural complete with hidden Popeyes is scheduled to be added to one of the exterior walls of a nearby water company building.