Guarding the entrance to War Memorial Park in Little Rock is this twenty-or-thereabout foot tall blue fiberglass viking. He was obtained for the park by park operator Lloyd Choate, who shares my special fondness for huge fiberglass advertising icons. Also in this picture, though hard to see in the shadows, are a life-size fiberglass bear and lion which Mr. Choate got from Tammy Faye Baker when she liquidated property from Heritage USA.
Eric the Blue, here, previously resided at the site of Ibsen motors on Cantrell Road. I wondered if the Viking might have been appropriate advertising for his dealership, since Ibsen is a Scandanavian name. Mike said, "I don't know anything about it. I don't have any comment. It was here when I bought the place. I gave it to the amusement park. You'll have to ask somebody else." I must have caught Mike at a bad time.
Mike bought the property from Joe Brown Sr., whose family owned and operated Brown's Carpet Store at that location.
Mr. Brown tells me that the now defunct Viking Carpet Company built eleven of these giants. Each was mounted on a truck and toured the country promoting stores which carried their line of carpet. The statues lay flat on the bed of the truck and were counterbalanced with water tanks so that they could be quickly and easily erected at any site.
Before too many years, the novelty of this promotion wore off, and the giants were sold, this one to a Houston man, who eventually sold it to Joe. Eric spent many years following Brown's Carpet Store (then known as Giant Carpets) from two locations on Main to the one on Cantrell. At length, Joe took Eric down and sent him to be stored in a field, where vandals decapitated him and broke one of his horns.
At that point, Mr. Choate, who knew how to fabricate in fiberglass, offered to repair the statue if Mr. Brown would donate it to the amusement park at War Memorial, where it stands today.
Real live historical Norsemen didn't have horns on their helmets. I certainly was disappointed to hear that, but it's just one more thing I always knew for certain that eventually turned out to be wrong.
Due to low attnedance War Memorial Amusement Park has closed down and all the fiberglass sculpture has been removed.