10 Real Easter Eggs Hidden Around The World
Here we are again at the intersection of open-world video games and reality, ready to exploit some glitches, make our way into some seemingly unmapped areas, and find the inside jokes left for us by over-caffeinated programmers. In case you missed it, we’ve done this a few times before—but since the stimulant-addled coders of the real world sleep just as infrequently as those who make our games, we’ve had no trouble rounding up 10 more for your amusement and utter befuddlement.
10Standin’ On A Corner
“Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona / Such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford / Slowin’ down to take a look at me.” So goes the middle verse of the Eagles’ 1972 classic “Take It Easy”—and though the song’s author, Jackson Browne, likely picked the town and state for the sake of meter (and for rhyming somewhat poorly with “corner”), the small town has managed to kindle a respectable little tourism industry centered around the statue and mural installation pictured above.
The statue, which many have noted looks nothing like either Browne or Glenn Frey (who sang the Eagles tune), gazes eternally at the fine sight depicted in the mural as if it were a reflection in a window. The installation wasn’t built until 1999, the result of a push by the cleverly named Standin’ On a Corner Foundation, who saw opportunity in the fact that practically everyone who passed through the town would stop to take selfies on random street corners.
Today, the statue draws hundreds of visitors daily to this tiny town of around 10,000 citizens, many of whom owe their livelihoods to a long-ago name check by that other guy who was in the Eagles, Glenn Frey. There’s also a memorabilia stand where you can purchase T-shirts and mugs and listen to an endless loop of Eagles songs; alternatively, you could just tune to any classic rock station.
9Busted Plug Plaza
Artist Blue Sky, a Columbia native, was commissioned to create this piece by a local bank in honor of its 75th anniversary. This four-story concrete, steel, and aluminum rendering of a fire hydrant is called “Busted Plug Plaza.”
According to the artist’s website, it was conceived as a different project called “Downtown Fountain,” a cement structure that kind of looked like a hydrant, with plugs analogous to various parts of the downtown area. At any rate, this enormous, 306-metric-ton (337 ton) fire hydrant was kept completely under tarps during construction, willed into existence by the combined efforts of architects, engineers, and city planners before finally being unveiled to the wondering, stupefied eyes of Columbia’s residents in 2001.
Strangely, there are a couple of other towns in America that once laid claim to the title of World’s Biggest Hydrant, but Busted Plug Plaza’s behemoth dwarfs them both. Says the artist of his work: “There’s one thing about all my public works. And that is, if anybody looks at it and thinks it’s art then I’ve failed because it’s not meant to look like art. I want it to look like something bizarre and something they’ve never seen before. And the last thing I want them to think is that it’s art.” Bingo.
8Easter Egg Island
Ever wanted to find an actual deserted, tropical island that you could have to yourself for a day or two? Near Petit St. Vincent in the Caribbean, there’s a tiny little island where that fantasy can easily come true.
Looking like nothing so much as a deserted island straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, Mopion Island is all of 30 meters (100 ft) across and completely unadorned by anything except for a picturesque thatched umbrella. As one might imagine, it’s been photographed six ways from Sunday for all manner of travel brochures, posters, and postcards, and probably painted about as many times. Visitors scrawl their names on the umbrella’s post, which we’re surprised isn’t completely inked over—as of this writing, the little shovelful of sand in the middle of all that clear, blue water is Trip Advisor’s third-highest-ranked attraction in St. Vincent.
7UFO Welcome Center
We already know from a previous entry in this series that space aliens occasionally deliver mail to and/or pick up mail from the middle of nowhere, because someone built a mailbox to accommodate that purpose. One South Carolina man, Jody Pendarvis, has taken this one step further by turning his house into a large flying saucer that he calls the UFO Welcome Center.
Mr. Pendarvis is pretty serious about the whole thing: “Seriously, I am here to welcome the aliens from out of space.” He claims to have had several such visits since building the Center in the 1990s, and he has some definite theories as to what they’re up to: “I don’t believe they actually want to land. I think they’d just rather fly around, live on their own ship and maybe come visit, maybe not.” And if they do land, what then? “Aliens can fly from the north or the south and just land in the parking lot and come and chit chat with me.”
At any rate, the extremely small, 1,200-person town of Bowman with its one blinking stoplight has thus far tolerated Jody and the small amount of tourism his labor of love generates. At least they can all agree that it’s the town’s most noteworthy aspect: “Since this is the only attraction in Bowman, I think I’ll run for mayor and maybe I’ll get it,” said Mr. Pendarvis, a completely reasonable man.
6Hidden Solar System
In 1971, sculptor Ivan Kozaric gifted the city of Zagreb, Croatia with his latest work, entitled The Grounded Sun. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—a 2-meter (6.5 ft) bronze model of the Sun. That is to say, a huge bronze ball that sits on the ground in the middle of the city square. Interesting as that may or may not be, it’s not exactly Easter egg material. No, that would be the installation that artist Davor Preis created in 2004—since the Sun sits in the middle of the city, he envisioned the rest of it as the Solar System, and distributed the planets throughout the city.
Of course, the planets closest to the Sun—Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mar—are all contained within the square, but the outliers are a little more difficult to find and require some hiking. The installation was never advertised to the public, and it wasn’t until their location was revealed by students at Zagreb University that most residents became aware of it at all. The planet sculptures are built to the same scale as Kozaric’s original work, and of course, their distances from the original sculpture are accurate to the same scale. And for the astronomically nostalgic, the installation does include Pluto, whose planetary status was revoked in 2006.
5The Monster Pad
Here we have the second entry to ever appear in this series from Boulder, Colorado, home to some famously odd people (there’s a reason Mork and Mindy was set there). Tucked in a cozy neighborhood up close to the Flatirons, this neatly kept ’80s-modern house does not have any particularly fascinating features. The owner evidently decided that that would not do, and that the best way to remedy the situation was to place lifelike, life-size statues of Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. in his living room window.
The statues hold their position year-round, delighting children and scaring the hippies, and one has to wonder if the owner is just a huge fan or was somehow able to secure these statues for less than the cost of a snazzy paint job. They wear ghost sheets on Halloween, Santa hats on Christmas, and generally just seem way more like something Jeffrey Katzenberg would have in his den than the centerpiece of some guy’s living room in Boulder. Nobody seems to know who lives in the house or whether they work for Pixar.
4The Lil’ Desert
The Desert of Maine has been attracting visitors for almost a century, and it certainly looks and feels like a desert—heat reflected by the sand dunes pushes temperatures up 20 degrees or so from the surrounding areas, and the little region can reach over 32 degrees Celsius (90 °F) during the summer.
The 47-acre geological oddity was created by a one-two punch of natural erosion and sloppy farming: Ice-age glaciers pulverized the rocks in the area into sand, which was buried deep beneath the topsoil. Said topsoil was slowly eroded by a farming family in the 1700s over generations, eventually exposing a small patch of sand that grew . . . and grew. Throughout the 1800s, the family tried to fight the encroaching drifts, but gave up in the early 1900s. They eventually sold it off for $300 to a Mr. Henry Goldrup, who turned it into the tourist attraction it remains today.
If you visit, you can go on tram tours, guided hikes, and play Frisbee golf. Just don’t ride the camel statues—they’ve been there since the ’50s as a replacement for the real camel they used to have.
3The Lil’ Post Office
Tourists to southern Florida often stop to take photos of the world’s smallest post office, pictured above, in the town of Ochopee. Inside, they find all the things you might expect—trinkets, keychains, postcards—and one thing you might not: a postal worker. Yes, the Ochopee post office actually functions as a post office, even if only two or three people pick up their mail there.
If the building just looks like a little shed, that’s because it used to be exactly that. In 1953, the original post office/general store burned to the ground, and instead of rebuilding it, well, you get the idea. For awhile, the little shed served as both the post office and bus stop for Trailways bus lines. When the decision was made to move the building, the job probably only took around half a day—a couple local residents plopped it onto a wheelbarrow and hauled it off to its current location.
In case you were wondering, the building has all the modern conveniences—a computer, a phone, even air conditioning. Oh, except a bathroom. We suppose that keeping things bottled up is something of a postal worker stereotype, but it still seems like a pretty glaring oversight.
If, at first glance, the art installation pictured above looks like an actual homeless man, perhaps that is the point. The work has had the police called on it at least once, and a bronze likeness of a hobo sleeping on a park bench seems an odd choice for a public artwork—until you consider the affluent neighborhood in which it resides, and the crucifixion marks on its feet.
Yes, the statue—a $22,000 gift to the Episcopalian Church from a parishioner—is meant to depict Jesus as a lowly vagrant, which may help explain why it was rejected by two other cathedrals before finding a home in Davidson, North Carolina. To their credit, the church that ended up accepting the statue seems to recognize the value of the artist’s intent—Reverend David Buck said, “It gives authenticity to our church . . . this is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society.”
Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, the statue’s creator, has brought a miniature to the Vatican and received the blessing of Pope Francis; he hopes to get a Homeless Jesus installed in Vatican City one day soon. Parishioners of the Davidson church, meanwhile, have warmed up to their version and have even been seen praying in front of it occasionally.
1E.T.’s Final Resting Place
Finally, we have the actual intersection of real-world Easter eggs and video games. That is to say, an Easter egg consisting of a video game in the real world.
It had long been a sort of urban legend that, after the infamous video game crash of 1983, Atari took a whole bunch of copies of its famously crappy E.T. The Extra Terrestrial video game and dumped them in a public landfill in Alamagordo, New Mexico. Atari never really confirmed nor denied this, and as it sounded just too awesomely fitting to be true, most assumed that it was at the very least a wild exaggeration. Turns out, it was not.
In April 2014, garbage company owner Joe Lewandoski, along with archaeologist Andrew Reinhard and, for some reason, film director Zak Penn, got together to hunt for the biggest Easter egg of all—Atari’s lost E.T. dump. The games had been dumped in a 12-meter-wide (40 ft) hole in a 300-acre landfill over 30 years prior, yet they hit pay dirt the same afternoon they started digging, also coming up with a few Missile Command and Centipede games for good measure.
Game designer Howard Warshaw, creator of E.T., was on hand for the excavation. While alluding to his brutal production schedule for the game (“It is the fastest video game developed in video game history as far as I know”), he also managed to wax philosophical about his supposed role in destroying his industry: “Thirty-two years ago I did a game that people called ‘the worst game of all time’ that toppled a billion dollar industry. Maybe it is true; maybe it is not. The fact is I did something 30 years ago that is still getting people gathered together, enjoying it, getting some excitement.”