Continuing my two-part posts on the most exhausting and exhilarating weekend ever is #6 on my urban exploration bucket list, Holy Land, USA. Holy Land, USA was a theme park closed in 1984 for renovations that never re-opened when the creator died in the midst of the changes. While I had it in my head that there would be rides — not necessarily roller coasters, but smaller rides — it was actually just an entire hill composed of miniature replicas of biblical-era towns and houses. More on that later.
I arrived on Slocum Road, where the entrance was, at about 10:50 am on Sunday after what was about a three-and-a-half hour drive. Since I had about fifteen minutes to spare, I sat on a boulder right next to this lovely message, “LOVE GOD,” and ate my lunch.
The entrance was an ominous gate just beyond a Star of David pole with the word “SHALOM” etched on the base. Shalom means either peace, hello, or goodbye in Hebrew.
Just inside the gate was the famous (well, famous to certain Redditors) headless and handless Jesus statue. Beneath it, it read: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Seemed strange for a theme park, but then again most theme parks don’t have headless statues of religious figures just beyond their gate, so what do I know?
Next came the replica. We walked along a paved path that bordered a hill covered in replicas. They were in variable states of disrepair. Herod’s (king of the Jews) Palace was one of the ones in better condition. Further down there were more and more unnamed structures.
Julian, his friend Rachel, and I climbed through the grass, between the replicas, and up the rocks towards the top of the hill.
This may have been a catacomb replica. It was not labeled.
Also, there were tons of biblical verses just left “lying around.” Sometimes they were attached to houses or statues but other times they were just left near other exhibits. This one read, “It is… a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins.” Again, this is not the peppiest theme park I’ve ever been to.
The concrete structures held their shape better than the regular houses.
I don’t know what “You have made it” is supposed to mean, but I liked it a lot.
I didn’t know what this was. Rachel or Julian suggested it might be a light. That sounds pretty plausible.
This was the view from the top of the hill over Waterbury.
There were also three giant crosses at the top of the hill. I said they looked like actual-sized crosses, although Julian said they were likely too big for people. Neither of us are experts of crucifixion, and I really don’t want to Google that, so I’m just going to leave that mystery unsolved.
Here is the larger cross that Rachel said used to light up but was replaced recently.
There was graffiti on the cross dedicated to Chloe Ottman, the sixteen-year-old girl murdered there in 2010. She is only two years younger than me, which was strange. I don’t usually care for graffiti because I think it detracts from the beauty of decaying places, but in this case, I thought it was quite nice.
Perhaps more catacombs? It turned out that we had completely skipped this on the way up and only found it on the way back down from the hill. It was no more than a few feet from Herod’s Palace.
Inside the cage-like area, Julian pointed out an electrical outlet.
Here is Rachel and me. Yes, I Instagrammed. Trust me, if you saw the original, you would think I needed a filter, too.
I suggested to Julian that my parents should make one of these (“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”) for my brother. Whatever, I thought it was funny.
Somehow I don’t think this station was about acceptance of homosexuality…
Ancient ruins recreated for modern use that become ancient ruins again…
This was probably an old parking lot of sorts. It reminded me of Centralia a bit.
Julian passed by this building and said, “This was the chapel.” It didn’t look very chapel-like, so I asked him how he knew. Turns out it was written in large print on the front. Go figure.
On the side of the chapel.
A relative of creator John Greco, I’m assuming…
And one more shot of the entrance as we were leaving.
And here was perhaps my favorite quote. What is actually says is, “He reawakened the enthusiasm of love when love was at a low ebb,” but I choose to read, “Here awakened the enthusiasm of love when love was at low ebb.” That’s what you get from a non-religious person visiting a religious theme park: Subjective interpretation.
And finally Julian’s very manly bruise and Rachel just looking cool. I miss that kid already.
We had some time to spare before Julian had to go to his volunteering so we stopped a nearby diner for various types of pudding. It was actually rather jarring how, as we drove to the diner from what could be described as a “not so nice part of town” to a very cute suburban area, the scenery changed in less than a few minutes. That’s Connecticut for you: One of the richest states but one of the worst income gaps.
So after what added up to an almost five-hour drive home (including stops), I was happy to be back, and I happily fell asleep at 9:30 pm because that was one hell of a weekend. Next weekend is up to Rochester for Marlise’s birthday and hopefully checking out the abandoned psychiatric hospital. I think I’ll save the abandoned subway for the school year.