World's heaviest ball of twine in Wisconsin could soon be on the move
HIGHLAND, Wis. (FOX 9) - A few miles outside the small town of Highland, Wisconsin, in Douglas County, there's a monument to pursuing your passion.
At 10 feet high, 22 feet wide, and weighing in at more than 24,000 pounds, this oval-shaped sphere is believed to be the heaviest ball of twine in the world.
"I love it. I love things like this. The quirkier the better. We don't have much else, so it's been here for so long. People do know it's in Highland," said neighbor Terri Nelson.
For many residents in this community, the big ball of twine is worth its weight in gold.
"It's the heaviest ball of twine, it's not the largest. You wouldn't believe how many people saved twine for him," said Nelson.
Nelson has been coming to see the town's claim to fame since the early 80s.
"I thought this guy is crazy. Why did he build a ball of twine? But every time we went by, we'd stop again because it's something different," said Nelson
She's even donated short strands of twine, no strings attached.
"I'll pull off the road if I see a sign for some weird thing. I will go 100 miles out of my way to see it. Obviously other people do too because they come here to see the ball of twine," said Nelson.
This twisted tale started back in 1979 when James Frank Kotera heard about another ball of twine and decided to create one that was bigger and better.
For the next 40 years or so, the eccentric bachelor spent most of his free time weaving pieces of twine into a colossal achievement.
"I think it's great that he kept it up for so many years and stayed doing it for this many years. Every single day I'd drive by, it would be raining. I'd see him putting twine on this ball," said Nelson.
It didn't take long for Kotera's creation to get noticed, with people coming from all over the world. Family members say Kotera, who usually went by his initials JFK knew how to spin a yarn to anyone who stopped by.
"He would be so excited. He would call us or if he would see us, he'd say ‘I had somebody from Japan here today, or I had someone from New Zealand here today,’" said Kotera's sister Rose Graves.
After Kotera passed away from bone cancer a couple of months ago, friends and neighbors started an effort to preserve his life's work.
Since his property will eventually be sold, they want to move the ball of twine from his backyard to the town hall next to the transfer center, where Kotera worked and is named after him, so the public can continue to see it.
"At first I thought, What are you talking about? We're probably going to dig a hole and bury it, just to get it off the property. It won't burn, you know? I didn't know he was that famous, but sad to say, I think that happens to many people. You don't realize until after they pass away the connection they have in the community," said Graves.
Inside the town hall, there's a display to help raise the $10,000 needed for the move, as well as a smaller version of the ball of twine he made for people to hold up for pictures that he called Junior.
Kotera also kept notebooks in his mailbox, so visitors could leave their names, where they were from and a message if they wanted to.
Nelson hopes her neighbor's hobby of gigantic proportions will continue to be the common thread for his community for years to come.
"He would love it. He would be so thrilled to know people want to keep it and want to move it over. I'm sure he's smiling because this was his life," said Nelson.
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise the money to move his big ball of twine.