The Zephyr.

Port Royal's Rubber-Headed Landmark

"Zephyr" is a 15-foot tall statue of a woman in a bronze dress, with wild hair made from recycled rubber tires. This Cowardly Lion Amazon was erected on December 1, 2007, specifically as a landmark for potential shoppers to notice the turnoff to downtown Port Royal, South Carolina.

The statue was named "Mother of Rubber Trees" when it was created in 2000, and stood on Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago -- part of an art exhibition designed to draw attention to the Amazon River. Port Royal bought it for its own art show in 2001, but after a few years it ended up in the Public Works lot along with the town's repossessed cars.

"And then we got the great idea," says Van Willis, the town's general manager, "of incorporating her into our new major intersection entryway sign." The statue had nothing to do with Port Royal, which bills itself as "The Birthplace of American Civilization." It was chosen simply because it would grab the attention of motorists. "We knew that people would either love it or hate it," Willis told us, "but they'd know exactly where it was."

Port Royal has spent over $16,000 refurbishing the statue and bolting it to a concrete sign, with the intent that it will become a permanent landmark. Lights are being installed so that it will be lit at night. The name "Zephyr" was Willis's creation. "It just popped into my head," he said, and there are no plans to name her anything else. "She's 'Zephyr' now, whatever the hell that is."

According to Willis, a local editor said that the statue reminded him of his childhood nightmares, and others are calling it The Heisman Medusa because it resembles Medusa running with a football, fending off tacklers. "Nightmare Witch, whatever they want to call her, I'm happy with that," Willis told us. "As long as they know where she is."

[12/16/2007]
Address:
Ribaut Rd, Port Royal, SC
Directions:
On Hwy 802/281/Ribaut Rd at the intersection of Paris Ave., which is about a mile south of the intersection of US 21. Reportedly easier to see driving north than south.
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