Vulcan has a problem–a serious problem!
I find this distressing since I have a soft spot in my heart for this not so lovable Roman God.
I can’t imagine a Birmingham without Vulcan…and no other city in the U.S. or abroad has anything like him.
This 50-ton cast iron statue (the largest in the world) was a meaningful part of my childhood.
When I was a boy, I remember the slow/squeaky elevator ride up to the viewing platform where I was rewarded with a stunning view of Birmingham.
At night I remember looking up with anticipation from the backseat of my dad’s old Plymouth (an old car brand) to see if Vulcan’s spear was ‘red’ or ‘green.’ Red indicated there had been a traffic fatality.
But I may be one of the few people left who really care about what some may think is an outdated icon.
Darlene Negrotto, President and CEO of Vulcan Park Foundation recently wrote a piece for ComebackTown. It was a beautifully written article telling the rich history of Vulcan and how vital he is to our community.
There was only one problem.
Virtually no one read it.
I keep up with that kind of thing and it was one of the least read pieces ComebackTown has ever published.
I had hoped the Vulcan story would generate interest and enthusiasm, but I was wrong.
I felt good about the title, “Would you buy a pickle from Vulcan?” It referred to Vulcan’s early days at the Fairgrounds where he was relegated to “advertising ice cream, soft drinks, pickles and overalls.”
But a silly title may not have been the problem.
A few weeks later Brad Toland, a ComebackTown guest contributor, wrote a piece on how Birmingham could become a major player on the world stage.
He wrote, “Birmingham is in desperate need of a symbol.”
He continued, “London has its bridge. Paris has a tower. Even Dublin has beer and four leaf clovers. What does Birmingham have? It has a giant statute of Vulcan, with his backside exposed. It’s a statute that represents the industrial origins of the city, but was never meant to represent the city, per se, and isn’t recognizable to most people outside of Alabama.”
Vulcan is not hip
Young people may not think that Vulcan is ‘hip.’
I’m inclined to agree–Vulcan may not be hip.
But maybe we could give Vulcan a makeover?
We have installed computer generated LED lights in our underpasses downtown. Imagine how much fun it might be to add creative lighting to Vulcan.
Maybe we could build a ski lift from Vulcan Park down to Railroad Park? Sounds crazy, but we would get worldwide press. (Actually there has been some talk about creating a cable car or gondola lift to transport people between popular hot spots around Birmingham like Vulcan) (Magic City Connector)
And for those cyclists who hate hills, how about a bike escalator that pushes riders up to Vulcan Park without requiring them to dismount? They’ve done it in Norway.
We could use drones to put on nightly fireworks shows at Vulcan. Yes, drones are the future of fireworks.
Our options are as broad and varied as our imagination.
We’ve got a lot invested in Vulcan—both financially and emotionally.
Let’s make him the talk of the world…or at least the talk of Birmingham.
Do you think Vulcan is important to Birmingahm?
What ideas do you have?
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).