Fighting Fungus

(c) Get Hep Studios

When road expansion on Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven, Florida began, a cry went up by the locals to not shake the 'shroom. The object of concern was a 10-foot fungus just a few feet from where workers had begun to assemble an overpass.

A giant mushroom may not be what one would expect to find in the "Water-ski Capital of the World." Nonetheless, it has been a landmark in the town since 1954. It was originally erected as part of a picnic area for the then Garden Lodge Motel.

The biggest concern for road workers was that pilings driven 150-feet deep into the ground might have caused vibrations that would topple the toadstool. They did not. In February of 2002, the two-year project was complete and the fighting fungus was still holding its ground.

(c) Get Hep Studios

It stands eerily alone on the banks of Lake Ina, which was created by a sinkhole. The only inhabitants of the area are pigeons that have found a way to maneuver inside the domed top through holes where, what looks like lights along the underside of the 10-foot in diameter top, may have once been located. The birds fly out at unsuspected visitors who migrate toward the mushroom for a closer look.

Prior to the roadwork, the county pressure washed the 'shroom so that community volunteers could paint it. There are no exact figures on how much it costs to maintain, seeing as the city only really mows the grass around it.

"It's been here so long that it is nice it can stay, but at the same time, I hope they don't go to any extra expense," said City Manager Dale Smith.

Giant Mushroom
Lake Ina
Cypress Gardens Boulevard
Winter Haven, FL

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