One of the strangtest stories of the year

My friend Tim sent me this.  Words can barely describe it… Apparently, in North Webster, IN there was an International Palace of Sport.

At the dedication on June 29, 1974, 50,000 people witnessed a three-hour “Mermaid Festival” parade, followed by the crowning of no less than OJ Simpson the “1973 King of Sports”.  The juice was joined by Jesse Owens, “King of Track and Field”, Pancho Gonzalez, “King of Tennis”, John Weismuller, “King of Swimming”, Dick Weber, “King of Bowling”, and a whole bunch of other important and not-so-important people.

The Palace itself was an amazing combination of tourist trap and kitsch, perhaps never equaled before or since in the history of the Hoosier state.  Upon entering the “imposing” front doors, one was greeted immediately by a big pool of water with three jets of water shooting up out of it.  As described by Homer:

“Steeded knights of the Mississippi and St. Lawrence Rivers joust, in full armor, above the surging waters programmed to lights and music in spectacular symbolism of the Fountain’s location on the Continental Ridge.”

Right.

Walking up the staircases or riding the elevator to the second level leads you to “The Royal Gallery of the Realm of Recreation”, which was really just a long wall with 50-or-so oil portraits of all of those honored by the Palace painted by one-armed local artist DeWitt Mullett.  On the floor in front of the paintings was a glass case containing “Realm of Recreation Crown Jewels”, a pile of fake baubles including the Chris Schenkel “Excalibur” Sword and the “King of Sports” and “Queen of Lakes” Crowns.

The final line of the article summs up the whole crazy thing…

On February 23, 1991 he achieved Grand Master status in the American Contract Bridge League, only the 93rd person to ever do so.  Later that year he passed away at age 78, but not before telling his nephew that he wanted his ashes eventually spread on Mars.

Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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