CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Cape Coral’s beloved “Big John” is getting ready for surgery after Hurricane Ian gave the 6,000-pound statue a beating nine months ago.
The 28-foot statue is quite a few feet shorter now. The pole that held up Big John’s upper body is now jetting out from his head. His back is broken, cracked and twisted away from the plaza’s entrance.
“His head is on his butt,” said Valerie Kitchen, a Cape resident who remembers taking photos of Big John with her girlfriends when she first came to Cape Coral. “Oh my gosh, he looks crazy…I want him fixed!”
The fiberglass landmark stood at the Big John Plaza in Downtown Cape Coral for over 50 years. Big John has survived four hurricanes now, but after Ian…he’s in need of repairs.
“Big John helps people find us,” said Jodi Olszewski, the owner of Envy Salon. “We have to tell our customers we’re located in Big John’s plaza. You can’t miss him! He’s 100 feet tall!”
Elmer Tabor who owns the plaza said he had to concentrate on making sure his shops were up and running after the storm. Now that it’s been nine months, he’s shifting his focus to Big John’s damages.
“There’s a website, Roadside America. Interesting things to see, and do around the country, they’ve been following Big John forever,” said Tabor. “They called me a week after the hurricane and he said ‘Elmer you’ll never believe it, but we found the original mold for Big John! At a farm up in West Virginia’.”
Tabor said he’s expecting to ship Big John out in about a month to get refurbished and back in shape.
“He’s going to go away to a special spa, where he’s going to get all fixed up and lookin’ good when he comes back,” said Tabor.
Tabor said the repairs are estimated to cost $32,000, but he’ll do whatever it takes until Big John is back better than before.