Saving the Giants: Restoring, selling the statues of Magic Forest

Special Reports

An amusement park that’s been a favorite for generations of Capital Region families has seen its last year. And with the park’s closing, all of its iconic pieces of Americana are being sold off. 

Gigantic fiberglass statues dotted the 1960s landscape. They beckoned travelers to visit roadside businesses and attractions.  

However, by the 1980s, the sculptures were weather-worn and considered eyesores. But someone would come out of the woodwork and help save many of the Giants from the junkyard. 

“It was just fun going across the country buying stuff,” Jack Gillette said. “I’ve counted over 600.” 

He scoured auction houses and sales looking for anything made by International Fiberglass, known for making the original giant statues. And he gave the figures a new home at the family business, The Magic Forest amusement park in Lake George. 

The park and its statues have delighted visitors since 1963, but after a several decades-long run, Gillette decided it was time to sell the park. And the statues are moving on, too. 

The delicate moving job was done by a company with a very appropriate name: American Giants. Restoring the original fiberglass sculptures, they specialize in the Muffler Man, or Paul Bunyan, style, a preferred model for their ability to hold anything from hamburgers to axes. 

The pieces of Americana are so popular there are websites and maps devoted to where you can view them in their natural habitat. 

“When I was a kid, we used to drive by this Midas Muffler place,” collector Michael Whitman said. “And I would always divert my mother to go take me to drive by it, and I was probably five or six. And I always wanted one for years after that.” 

But as each one of the old treasures are sold off from Magic Forest, will their former owner miss them? 

“I thought I would be sad, but so far, everyone’s been nice,” Gillette said. “They all want a piece of the park, and it’s good.” 

The park will live on but with a dinosaur theme. 

If you would like to visit some of the giant statues, you can go on a scavenger hunt of your own, HERE

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