COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Heading from Wilmington towards Whiteville on Highway 74/76, you've inevitably seen a piece land filled with various types of yard art.
The first thing that you notice is a 20 foot Uniroyal gal, a rare piece of Americana, one of only 11 left in the entire country. Then there are clowns, chickens, horses, bears, bulls, lions and crocodiles - the list goes on and on.
"People are so excited about it, they drive down the road they drive back and they say what is this what is this all about? So a lot of times I find myself being repetitive and telling the story over and over again," Hubert Graham said.
The story of how these 250 fiberglass figurines came to be dates back to a time in 1996 when he and his wife were robbed. Thieves made out with the couple's checkbooks and cash. It sparked an idea in Graham.
"At that time I told my wife, 'You know, I am going to build something outside the road to detour people but something that records and lights up when someone enters the driveway,' and boom the lighthouses were born," Graham explained.
What started out as Graham selling handmade 8-foot lighthouses, quickly transpired into a fantastical fiberglass feat.
He learned the art of making the oversized objects from a friend and mentor.
"I started buying molds from my friend Bill," Graham said. "He had about 55 to 60 molds and started making fiberglass and then I started making molds. Eventually, I got more technical on how to make everything from animals to boats."
But his dream is much bigger than just making fiberglass art. His goal is to use the fiberglass animals to create Columbus County's first amusement park and mini golf course. Just hearing him talk about is enough to get anyone excited.
"I am making 10 of every animal. I have 75 molds so that is 750 animals. Put a motor in the middle of each one add a saddle to them cover up and then make it a merry go round, then that way you can ride a chicken you can ride a horse you can ride a cow, a bull a bear, a calf a sheep, you can ride whatever I make," Graham said full of excitement.
He is catering the park to the autistic or those with disabilities as well - a giant sized dream fueled from being shunned at church in the 1970s. He was the only black boy in a white church choir in Columbus County.
"One day the pastor tapped me on the shoulder and he said hey, some of the members don't want you inside of this church," said Graham, adding that the incident taught him that everyone should be treated equally and can co-exist together.
Graham hopes to have the park up and running in the next eight months.