Cover image courtesy Jana Taylor, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With Easter a little over a week away, some of you may be looking for a little divine inspiration for your next weekend road trip (and we’re not just talking about that plastic Jesus you have sitting on your dashboard, either). Well, you know at Stuckey’s we never settle for doing things in a little way, so this Easter, why not join us as we go looking for some of the biggest religious roadside attractions in the country.

Christ of the Ozarks / Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Well, we couldn’t exactly go out on an Easter road trip without starting with the big guy, could we? After all, along with Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season.

At 65½ feet high, Christ of the Ozarks is the tallest statue of Jesus in the United States. Placed atop Magnetic Mountain near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the statue was built in 1966 by Gerald L. K. Smith as the centerpiece for what he planned to be a theme park he called “Sacred Projects”. The statue itself was designed by noted American sculptor Emmet Sullivan who not only assisted Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum in building Mt. Rushmore, but also helped create the nearby tourist attraction Dinosaur Land (which, unfortunately, has been closed since 2005).

Made of two million pounds of concrete and steel, the 7.5 ton Christ of the Ozarks is done in a modernistic and minimalistic design with straightforward, simplified lines and little detail or expression showing on its face, which visitor’s sometimes describe as “cold”. Cold or not, this Jesus is strong. Each of his outstretched arms can support three hanging cars. What’s more, Jesus can turn his other cheek to 500 M.P.H. winds and still remain standing.

World’s Largest Praying Hands / Tulsa, OK

Weighing in at 30 tons, the world’s largest praying hands sculpture (and, as it happens, the world’s largest bronze sculpture) sits in front of Oklahoma’s Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Designed by artist Larry McMurray, the sculpture was cast in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and originally placed in front of the City of Faith Medical and Research Center as a symbol of the healing power of prayer. However, after most of the center was converted into office space and renamed Citiplex Towers in 1991, the hands were moved to the front of the ORU campus where they sit today. Incidentally, one of the hands is modeled after a cast of Oral Roberts’ own hands, while the other hand is modeled after his son Richard’s hands.

While you’re there, take a tour of the rest of the campus and its mid-century modern architecture featuring the very Googie-inspired Prayer Tower. You don’t have to be the praying kind to go inside and up the tower to the observation deck for a 360° view of the ORU campus and reflect on that time in 1987 when from this Oral Roberts warned his followers through tears that God would call him home unless he raised $8 million for the university that you’re looking at now. (Robert’s actually raised $9.1 and God wouldn’t call him home until 22 years later in 2009.)

The Great Cross / St. Augustine, FL

Erected in 1965, the 208 foot high stainless steel cross was built to mark the spot where Father Lopez, the first pastor to land in America, came ashore and, while humming the hymn Te Deum Laudamus (“God, We Praise You” in Latin), planted the nation’s first cross on American soil 400 years earlier in 1565.  Of course, that was just a small wooden cross and not the one that you see here today. (Harry Brearley wouldn’t invent stainless steel until 1913.) Besides, at 70 tons, the Great Cross would be a pretty heavy cross for Father Lopez to bear.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how it has remained standing after 57 years of Florida hurricanes, the cross is made of 200 stainless steel panels with the bottom half of the cross filled with concrete. It sits on a base of covered in granite slabs, some inscribed with the names of loved ones as a memorial.

Our Lady of the Rockies / Butte, MT

The tallest statue of the Virgin Mary in America, Our Lady of the Rockies overlooks Butte, MT from the Continental Divide. She was first conceived in 1979 by Bob O’Bill as his wife lay dying of cancer. O’Bill made a promise to God that, if his wife survived, he would build a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe (a.k.a. the Virgin Mary). Mrs. O’Bill did, in fact, survive, and after receiving donations of money, materials, and labor from the local community, Bob O’Bill’s statue was erected on December 17, 1985 at its present location at Saddle Rock atop Butte’s East Ridge. The statue, made out steel and weighing 80 tons, was later dedicated to “all women, especially mothers”. The statue is also lit up at night.

As you can see there’s some big things out there on the road just waiting for you to see this Easter. However, those of you who are a bit more secular with your Easter might also enjoy these:

America’s Largest Decorated Egg is actually The World’s Largest Czech Egg. The egg sits in the once predominately Czech town of Wilson, Kansas. As a tribute to its heritage, the town decided to build a towering 20-foot egg painted in the traditional Czech design.

The World’s Largest Basket is actually the former Longaberger Basket Building in Newark, Ohio. Completed in 1997 at the behest of company founder and then-chairman, Dave Longaberger, the “Big Basket” is 160 times the size of an ordinary Longaberger basket and cost $32 million to build. However, David’s death of kidney cancer in 1999 started the basket company’s downfall which eventually led to the foreclosure of the Basket Building and all employees abandoning it by 2016. Though the building was sold in 2017, plans to turn the building into condominiums or a luxury hotel have yet to come into fruition. For now, the building still sits abandoned on Newark’s Main Street, so get your selfies in while you still can.             

Image courtesy of PEEPS.

Not a World’s Largest Peep in sight this Easter. However, if you’re in Bethlehem, PA around the New Year’s Holiday, the massive 400 lb., 4’-9” yellow Peep chick descends for the countdown to the New Year at 5:30 p.m. on both Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 at an annual event called Peepsfest.

So, that’s some big things to see on your big Easter road trip. However, don’t worry if you don’t make it down the trail like Peter Cottontail in time for Easter – nearly all of these roadside attractions are available for a little divine road trip inspiration all year round.

And speaking of divine, what’s more heavenly than a bite of the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness of Georgia pecans baked in a light and fluffy Southern nougat that we call the Stuckey’s Divinity Bars? For a limited time only, choose from our  24-count box of 1.7-oz Divinities, our 12-count box of 1.7-oz. Divinities, or our 6-count box of 4-oz. Divinities and take $5 off each box! However if you want them in time to put them into your Easter basket and you live between the Rockies and the Mississippi River, order by noon on Friday, April 8th. East Coasters, order by noon on Monday, April 11th. (For those of you living beyond the Rockies on the West Coast, you can still take advantage of the discount even though you won’t get them by Easter.) Visit stuckeys.com and order yours today!

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!