For a small town, Casey, Illinois, has a lot of large things to offer. Specifically, 12 things are recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest in the world.
Casey (pronounced Cay-Zee), a town in southern Illinois, is home to 2,635 people, including Jim Bolin. Wanting Casey to get on the radar for travelers, Bolin built a 42-foot-tall wind chime in 2011, making the Guinness Book of World Records. People started coming, and Bolin made more large things. Twelve of his works are in the record book. More than 20 other large things, though not records, are still tourist attractions in Casey.
The 12 record holders are a wind chime, a golf tee, a pitchfork, a rocking chair, wooden shoes, a mailbox, a gavel, a truck key, a barbershop pole, a teeter-totter, a golf driver and a swizzle spoon. Other big things around town include a mouse trap, a pencil, a bird cage and several other fun creations. Bolin stated, “One of our major themes in all of this is to give God thanks for all His incredible blessings. Each world record item has a corresponding Bible verse that we hope will put the focus off of us and point to the one who deserves all the glory.”
Bolin told me the origin of his idea. “The wind chime was built to attract traffic from Interstate 70 to a café we were planning to open. We had visited a tea shop in Silver Plume, Colorado. I thought something similar would be nice to have in Casey. I had childhood memories of a downtown that had many successful businesses, but Casey had only a handful downtown. One was a restaurant, and I certainly didn’t want to take customers away from them. I knew thousands of vehicles passed Casey on the interstate each day, so a roadside attraction that set a world record seemed like a great way to attract customers. Only later did we realize the potential of the idea. The more big things were built, the more cars came off the interstate. We currently have a thriving downtown with many unique shops and eateries. God has greatly blessed our efforts!”
While in Casey, if you have a big appetite, there is Whitling Whimsy, a sandwich shop, owned by Bolin and his wife. It features a full breakfast menu, daily-made bakery items, deli sandwiches and more.
There’s also the Greathouse of Pizza, which was named the Best Pizza in Central Illinois in 2018, serving Chicago-style pizza. Among their many other menu items are their very popular knots.
Always on the lookout for interesting travel stories, my sister Jean first pointed me to Bucket Quest, a travel-related site of Frank and Janice DeArmas. Casey is just one of the many fantastic places featured from their travels. Bucket Quest put Casey and other cool locations on my radar.
Casey is billed as a small town with a big heart. It may still be a small town, but Bolin’s work has made it a big attraction.
— John Wroblewski, writer
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