Put the metal to the kettle

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Bill Parkhurst held a red Salvation Army kettle that was used to create a world's-largest scale version of the Army's trademark coin receptacle at the Carpenters' Training Center in Cape Girardeau.

Throw your metal in the kettle, but don't expect it to make much of a dent unless you have a truckload of change.

The world's largest Salvation Army kettle -- a 2,800-pound version of the standard 2-pound red kettle -- officially will be unveiled in St. Louis next month for the Tree of Lights holiday fund drive.

Salvation Army officials in St. Louis say its size could land the kettle, crafted in Cape Girardeau, in the Guinness Book of World Records. They've mailed in the paperwork documenting the size of the kettle and are waiting for a response from the London-based enterprise that annually publishes a book listing some 10,000 world records.

Welding instructor Bill Parkhurst of Frohna, Mo., helped craft the steel creation for the St. Louis District Council of Carpenters and Joiners at the Carpenters' Training Center at 813 Enterprise St. in Cape Girardeau.

The Cape Girardeau site was chosen because its staff had more scheduling flexibility than the St. Louis-area training center staff, Parkhurst said.

Parkhurst was aided by fellow training center staffers Butch Davis and Bruce Bird.

Parkhurst admits the kettle is an uncommon sight.

"I've had people come by and shake their heads," he said Tuesday as he eyed his creation in a storage area of the training center. "It's different."

The kettle is 6 feet tall and 8 feet, 2 inches in diameter. The coin slot alone is 3 inches wide and 18 inches long, Parkhurst said.

Unlike the small kettles, in which the lids open, the top of this giant kettle is welded shut. Salvation Army officials will have to open a door in the side of the kettle to haul out the money.

There's no small change when it comes to this kettle. Parkhurst said Salvation Army calculations indicate the more than 1,100-gallon kettle could hold $350,000 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

The kettle is 2 inches taller and 2 inches larger in diameter than the current record holder, a steel kettle created for the Salvation Army in Salem, Ohio, last year.

It took two weeks to fashion the latest giant kettle. It is scheduled to be trucked today to St. Louis, where the charcoal-colored metal will be given a coat of red paint by members of the painters union.

All labor to construct and paint the kettle and about $2,000 in materials have been donated to the project by the labor unions involved.

Parkhurst said he's proud of his creation. "It's neat being able to do something for a good cause," he said.

The kettle is scheduled to be unveiled on Nov. 13 as part of the campaign kickoff for the Salvation Army Tree of Lights, said Karen Thomas, campaign coordinator in St. Louis.

It will be hauled on a trailer to shopping centers around St. Louis. Shoppers will be able to climb a ladder and drop their change in the slot. Thomas said Salvation Army personnel will man the kettle at each stop.

At present, no plans exist for bringing the kettle back to Cape Girardeau.

Bell ringers won't be ringing a giant bell for this kettle. But Christmas shoppers will find it hard to ignore a kettle this size, Salvation Army officials say.

"They can't miss this one," Thomas said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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