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Several of his larger whirligigs still stand there; a few will remain after the park is built, including one that will stay as a gift to the community. Simpson is conflicted about the park _ he knows he couldn’t care for the whirligigs but he’s lonesome without them.

“Well, I kind of hate to see them go,” he said. “I’ve looked at them for 50 or 60 years.”

He says he’s excited about the park, but is concerned about the opening date that’s more than a year away. “I just hope I live to see it.”

Simpson says he doesn’t consider himself an artist.

“But everybody says I am,” he said. “I’m just an old country boy.”

To the people restoring the whirligigs, Simpson is both artist and engineer.

“Now he may not have been an educated engineer, but these are engineering feats, I can tell you that,” Price said.

When Currie looks at the whirligigs, he mainly sees patience.

“The one that looks like a Christmas tree, there’s 2,000 reflectors on there,” Currie said. “And he had to cut each one of those reflectors out by hand, snip them, drill two holes in them, bend them over and tied them all with copper wire _ 2,000 times.”

Simpson doesn’t disagree with Currie’s assessment necessarily.

“It sure won’t easy,” he said. “People thought I was crazy. And I am to a certain extent.”

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Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

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Associated Press writer Allen Breed contributed to this story.