World's Largest Basket
Space aliens, bending their eye stalks Earthward, often mistake Newark, Ohio, as the center of all world power. After all, it is in this modest city that humankind has erected the grandest monument to the highest pinnacle of achievement by an advanced consumer culture -- the hand-woven gift basket. This monument is, in fact, the world's largest basket. It was built as the seven-story corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company.
There are many other contenders for over-the-top Monuments of Non-Essentiality in America -- the World of Coca-Cola and Precious Moments Chapel come to mind -- but they're not as intimidating when viewed from orbit.
The basket is a replica -- 160 times larger -- of Longaberger's Medium Market Basket. It's 192 ft. long by 126 ft. wide at the bottom, spreading to 208-ft. long by 142-ft. wide at the roofline. It is a magnificent sight.
Dave Longaberger, who founded the company, was the business visionary who not only tapped into the demand for hand-woven party baskets, but who dreamed up the idea of running his growing organization from the world's largest replica of one. Most of his employees, less farsighted than their leader, didn't take Dave's notion seriously when the plan was announced. Perhaps the house-sized basket in Dresden, Longaberger's old HQ, pushed the absolute physical limits of basket-building science.
Many were still astounded when they moved into the Brobdingnagian picnic packer in Newark -- their new Home Office -- on December 17, 1997.
We'd like to think that job satisfaction was higher than normal at Longaberger's. After all, no matter how menial your daily labors or how incompetent your boss, you still worked in a giant basket.
The entire region around Newark is basket-happy, thanks to the Longabergers. The World's Largest Apple Basket -- over 29 feet tall -- stands at the Longaberger Homestead in Frazeysburg. It was hand-woven from hardwood maple in 1999. It's become an even better photo op since it was augmented with giant fake apples.
In nearby Dresden, on Main St. and 5th, you'll find the old HQ still standing, a house-sized picnic basket -- 23-ft. tall and 48-ft. long. This huge basket was the first architectural creation of the Longaberger juggernaut. To get there you'll probably cross Dave Longaberger Avenue.
The Big Easter Basket up in Lorain -- on the shore of Lake Erie on West Erie Avenue -- is not a Longaberger creation, and it is a tad amateurish when compared to the other big baskets. Still, at 9 ft. high and 10 ft. wide, it suggests that big baskets have something to do with the soul of Ohio, not just the market-savviness of the Longaberger Basket Company. [Note: Giant eggs are placed in the Lorain basket, but only between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.]