7 places to travel to see the world’s biggest balls of stuff
By Aimee Heckel
Don’t ask why. Don’t even ask how. Sometimes the world’s greatest mysteries are best left unknown.
Like giant balls of, um, things. Twine. Foil. Hair. Why did someone use stamps to create a massive sphere? Did we mention hair? Hairball. The world’s biggest human hairball. Why?
We’re not getting into that here. But we will tell you where to go to see them for yourself. Here are our seven favorite big balls of stuff and where to find them.
The Kansas display, weighing in at more than 9 tons, is free and open 24 hours. Schedule your visit for August during the Twine-a-Thon, in which residents and visitors add additional twine to the ball. Yes, you, too, can contribute to this (only-in-America-style) achievement.
Minnesota’s 12-foot-wide ball of string also claims to weigh 9 tons, but the distinguishing factor here is this is the biggest ball of twine rolled by one man. One quiet man, all alone. No one knows why Francis A. Johnson rolled this ball, but today it is protected by a circular air shed and is a source of deep community pride.
2. The biggest ball of stamps in Boys Town, Neb. The history behind this ball is patchy, at best. The Stamp Collecting Club built it in the ’50s. It weighs 600 pounds. It was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Yup, believe it.
3. The biggest ball of foil. OK, maybe this one is not the biggest but this one has a name and that counts for something: Flora the Giant Foil Ball in Boise, Idaho. Flora currently weighs nearly 475 pounds. The goal is 2,000 pounds. Bring your clean, flat foil to share and help make history.
4. Biggest beach ball, Pensacola Beach, Fla. Technically, this is a water tower designed to look like a beach ball and not something you can bat over the volleyball net. Maybe it should be called the biggest homage to a beach ball.
5. Biggest ball of barbed wire. This is another double-header — between Jackson, Wyo., at 5,290 pounds and Denton, Texas, just short of 12 feet tall. The cities offer different measurements, making it tricky to pick a winner.
6. Biggest ball of paint, Alexandria, Indiana. Imagine a baseball with more than 23,000 coats of paint on it, weighing more than 3,500 pounds. It took 34 years of paint layers to achieve this size, and you can add a layer of paint yourself.
7. Ball of hair, Charleston, Mo. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Henry Coffer, a barber, has been saving hair for more than 50 years, now reaching a 167-pound human hair ball that is 4 feet high with a 14-foot circumference.
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