In May 1969, John Hollinsworth and his son Craig bought an existing grocery store in Cape Coral, and renamed it Big John’s. The father and son then commissioned a statue to be crafted in trade for a semi truck full of watermelons. The statue of “Big Jogn” stood 28 feet tall and weighed in at over 6,000 pounds, and had to be trucked to Cape Coral from Illinois in two pieces … the torso and the legs.
During the trip, tragedy struck when the truck misjudged the height of an overpass. Big John was decapitated, and his head went rolling down the highway! When he arrived to the Cape, The Hollinsworth family flew in a plastic surgeon (actually a fiberglass specialist) to repair him on the spot. Not only did Big John make a miraculous recovery, but he also made the headlines of the local paper and he was made a citizen of Cape Coral! Big John was happily placed in the parking lot of the grocery store to greet customers with his giant smile while holding two bags of groceries.
The store closed in 1986, but Big John stayed behind … minus his bags of groceries. Over the years, Big John has become a symbol of Cape Coral and a favorite holiday focal point. It seems he loves to dress as a ghost for Halloween, and can’t wait to pull out his giant Santa hat for Christmas!
In 2011, scandal broke out in Cape Coral when Big John suddenly disappeared over night! After an extensive search, the news reported that Big John had simply “gone away” for a little while for some rest, relaxation and a makeover. The big guy was eventually returned to his post, dressed in new clothing (acid washed jeans, a pair of Reeboxs and an American Flag T-shirt) and somewhere along the way … he found his bags of groceries!