- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2005

LINCOLN, Neb. - It is called the Prairie Peace Park, and it has been a roadside shrine for more than 11 years, displaying 170 exhibits — from children’s artwork to creations made from defused bombs.

At the end of this month, however, it will disappear, a victim of low attendance and lack of maintenance funds. Its director said the 29-acre site along Interstate 80 has been sold.

“The closing of the Prairie Peace Park is spiritually devastating to me,” said Don Tilley, who for the past decade has been director of the park, 10 miles west of Lincoln.

He said only 600 people visited the site last year, even though there are numerous references to it on the Internet and several travel books list the park as a quirky place to go. Now, there is not enough money to maintain the grounds, and Mr. Tilley has even given up trying to keep all the grass mowed.

The former educator, who is 70, said he once thought the park would be an inspiration to some people and would change others’ attitudes. It was opened in 1994 on donated land, envisioned as a way of teaching children lessons about avoiding conflict and violence.

Among the peace-themed works displayed is a 20-foot-tall globe bearing images of children, which turns slowly in the soft breeze. A clay mural, stretching 80 feet, was created by artists from 29 nations. Flowers grow in containers made from old ordnance.

Many of the smaller exhibits, created by children and artists from 40 countries, are worn by weather and stand knee-deep in the grass.

Children have volunteered to pack the artwork called “Amber Waves of Grain,” a 32,000-piece sculpture representing planes, rockets and submarines that might have carried nuclear bombs during the Cold War.

“This is a memorial to the war that never happened,” Mr. Tilley said.

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