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A giant undertaking

Can the Cardiff Giant still draw a crowd? Ty Marshal thinks so

The giant, a detailed, 10-foot 4-inch limestone carving, was designed to fool.

The giant, a detailed, 10-foot 4-inch limestone carving, was designed to fool.

— "There's a sucker born every minute," said Hannum upon hearing of the crowds paying to see Barnum's giant.

Naturally, Hannum and crew took Barnum to court over the scandalous statement, but when they couldn't prove the authenticity of their own specimen, the judge declared one couldn't make a fake of a fake, and the case was thrown out.

Now, nearly 142 years later, the hoax is considered the biggest in U.S. history and the original Cardiff Giant rests in The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, (Barnum's "fake" is on display at Marvin's Marvelous Machinery Museum in Farming Hills, Mich.).

Keeping a 142-year-old joke fresh

Back in present-day Syracuse, Marshal believes the story holds enough intrigue and complexity to translate to the 2011 crowd.

That's why he's attempting to re-create both the giant, and the spectacle, with "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute: Recreating the Cardiff Giant."

Spectators won't be searching for clues of authenticity or evidence of ancient men, but Marshal is confident locals will still revel in the chance to relive history.

Marshal said he plans to stay as historically accurate as possible when he "discovers" his own giant, a replica he'll build himself, in Lipe Art Park on Oct. 16.

Through a partnership with the Westside Arts Council, Marshal will pitch a tent right there where the giant lies, just as Newell did in his field in 1869, and charge a quarter per viewing. After a few days on the West Side, Marshal said the giant will travel downtown, by horse and buggy, he hopes, to the City Hall Atrium — the same location the original giant was displayed when it came to Syracuse.

There, he'll charge a buck to see it, just like Hannum and company.

"I'm not raising prices for inflation: 1869 prices!" he said.

The combination of folklore and freakshow will get people to the tent, Marshal believes.

Editor's note: P.T. Barnum offered $50,000 to purchase the giant from the Syracuse syndicate, not $150,000 as written in the story originally. We apologize for the error.

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dtyler 2 years, 8 months ago

Looks good. First story from the Eagle side!

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