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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Goliath rocking chair becomes new staple


An interesting new mascot started appearing in downtown Florence over the summer: the Goliath Rocking Chair. The enormous rocker, standing nine feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds, is proving to be a rather unique landmark that may leave passers-by wondering, “Why?” It is certainly a thought-provoking new addition, and has become a backdrop for many tourists’ photos as they visit the city. 

Although only becoming a Florence staple in recent months, the chair has been in existence for over three decades. Its story begins in Arkansas, over 30 years ago, with a man named Dennis Odem. 

Odem, a long-time attorney-at-law, found himself flying helicopters for a company called Hoppin’ Rides. During his work, he traveled to Arkansas, where he first encountered the chair that would inspire the design of the Goliath locals know today. After seeing it, he knew he needed one just like it.

After many inquiries, Odem was able to get in contact with the builder of the chair, Hagan Rockers. At the time, the cost to build the Goliath was around $3000. Today, however, a chair of the same stature would go for around a thousand dollars more. Odem commissioned Goliath without hesitation. After a 60-day wait, the giant was on its way to Florence on a trailer.

“We had to take three large [window] panels down, lay the chair on its side, get it into the house, and stand it back up,” Odem said. “The chair is 9 feet tall, and our ceilings are 9 feet tall; we had to rock it back a little bit so it wouldn’t hit the top.”

After keeping it inside his house for around five years, he eventually relocated the chair outside of his house, where it stayed for a while until it was donated to the Downtown Florence Alliance.

Odem has been a member of the Florence community for many years. He and his band, The Cadillacs, have been known to play at many different venues and events around the city. These include First Friday events, which are held by the Downtown Florence Alliance. This relationship made the Alliance the perfect candidate to receive the chair.

According to Chris Stangel, Executive Director of the Alliance, the chair was donated in early June, with its first appearance being at the First Fridays event on June 2.

“It was born out of a really cool act of kindness from the community,” said Stangel. “Dennis and Caroline Odem who are long-time residents of the community… [they] have been active with the Downtown Florence Alliance for years.”

Stangel said its main purpose was to draw attention to important businesses and events around the downtown area. Florence has become a popular tourist destination in the past months, as American Cruise Lines has started routinely making stops in the city. The Goliath is another quirk that makes Florence memorable in the minds of those who pass through.

Stangel was excited about the future of the chair, and he hopes people will continue to stop by and visit wherever they see it around town.

“Think of it as an invitation to come downtown and join us,” he said.

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About the Contributor
Trevor Mickle
Trevor Mickle, A&E Editor
Trevor is a freshman student from Jemison, Alabama, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Digital Media Production. Trevor is excited to get involved on campus help keep students informed on important topics in our community.

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