This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend the day in Greenville, South Carolina. I spent the day in downtown Greenville, which is composed of two parts with a large park, including a waterfall separating the two parts of town in the middle.
The Westend is the more historic side of town, boasting older buildings and many small businesses and more artsy endeavors. The Westend happened to be having a street festival the day I was there. All the local businesses had tents set up, music was playing, and there were scheduled events.
The park in Greenville is large and connects to the well-known Swamp Rabbit Trail. There is a large pedestrian bridge spanning the Reedy River called the Liberty Bridge. The bridge is an engineering feat as it is only supported on one side of the bridge. The falls are called the Reedy River Falls.
The East End of Greenville has newer buildings and shops. There are a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Main Street is lined with large trees and horse-drawn carriages are on the streets in the evenings. Artwork dots main street up and down, but two of the statues have literary stories behind them.
Greenville happens to have a copy of the statue Il Porcellino. There are many copies of Il Porcellino all over the world, but it’s not exactly a common statue. The original was a Helenistic piece in marble, but the sculptor Pietro Tacca created the bronze version, of which multiple versions have been cast.
The pig is a fountain as well as a statue. Drips of water come out its mouth and fall into the basin below. On the statue is also a snake biting a frog, but the snake is about to be bitten by a turtle. The tradition is to rub the snout of Il Porcellino for luck or a safe return. The snouts of Il Porcellinos all over the world are rubbed shiny by all those wishing for good luck. I rubbed Il Porcellino’s snout twice.
The statue Il Porcellio was featured in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale called The Metal Pig. In the story a little boy fell asleep upon Il Porcellino’s back and was taken on a tour of Florence’s art. The boy later became an artist himself.
Mice on Main
The East End of Greenville is also home to a series of statues, but they’re smaller than you might think. The series of statues is called Mice on Main. The series was conceptualized by a high school senior named Jim Ryan. The mice are from the well-known children’s book Goodnight Moon. Ryan’s mother used to read Goodnight Moon to him in the evenings and he came up with the idea of nine mice statues. There are nine mice in the book. The mice were created by artist Zan Wells.
The mice are hidden throughout main street. The first mouse is beside a bronzed copy of the book Goodnight Moon in front of the Hyatt hotel, but the other mouse locations are for you to find out. There are clues to the locations of the other mice in various shops on main street. The clues can also be found online. It’s a scavenger hunt. At first glance, you might miss the mice, but if you’re looking, you’ll begin to see bronze mice perched on curbs and other locations as you’re walking along. Each of the mice has a name.
There is an accompanying children’s book called Mice on Main by Linda Kelly that can be purchased in the Mast General Store.
If you’re looking to get a little luck and go on a scavenger hunt, visit Main Street in Greenville, SC.