Super-Sizing Terre Haute's Coke Bottle Heritage

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(Image of Root family-sponsored fiberglass Coke bottle courtesy of the Root Family Art Project.) (Image of Root family-sponsored fiberglass Coke bottle courtesy of the Root Family Art Project.)

An initiative designed to highlight Terre Haute as the birthplace of one of the most recognizable product packages in the world makes its debut Thursday afternoon. The Root Family Public Art Project involves 27 six-foot-tall fiberglass Coca-Cola bottles that have been decorated by artists from the Wabash Valley. The now iconic Coke bottle shape was the winning design submitted by the Root Glass Co. of Terre Haute in 1915 for a nationwide competition put together by the soft drink maker.

The Root family has contributed $10,000 as presenting sponsor of the art project. Teresa Exline, a volunteer who is leading the initiative's branding, says the art project is part of larger efforts. "We want to make Terre Haute a destination and instill a sense of community pride," she said. "This will be an exciting year for our efforts. The community will be dotted with six-foot tall reminders of the Coke bottle's origin in Terre Haute, a huge mural will be painted on the side of the forthcoming Vigo County History Center at 929 Wabash thanks to Coca-Cola Consolidated, and a Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle Festival will take place in downtown Terre Haute this fall thanks to the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Terre Haute."

The Vigo County Historical Society says a welcome sign is slated to be installed this year making the connection between Terre Haute and the Coke bottle design and the county's visitor center renovations could also be complete this year. The center will include an exhibit about the Root-designed bottle.

Thursday's preview party will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Mace Building at 658 Walnut Street in Terre Haute. Admission is $5.

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