Celebrating Robert Wadlow’s 100th Birthday!!

Can you imagine living to be 100 years old? Most of us can’t…but that doesn’t mean that the City of Alton, Illinois still won’t throw a birthday party! And just whose birthday are they celebrating? Well…none other than their very own “Gentle Giant”, Robert Wadlow! Read on to find out how you can participate in the celebration while going on a scavenger hunt and learning a little bit of Alton’s history while having some fun!

First, though, let me give you a little bit of history on Robert Wadlow…or the “Gentle Giant” as he became known. He was born on February 22, 1918 and weighed in at eight pounds, six ounces…nothing out of the ordinary there. But at six months old, Robert weighed almost 30 pounds…and continued growing from there due to a pituitary gland disorder. When he turned eight, he was 6 ft. 2 ½ inches tall and weighed 195 pounds and at the age of 18, became the tallest person in the world at 8 ft. 4 inches. After an infection in his foot set in, Robert passed away on July 15, 1940 at the age of 22…and died the tallest man in the world. He had grown to 8 ft. 11.1 inches and weighed 439 pounds!

So now that you know a little bit about Robert Wadlow, now let me tell you about how I found out about his 100th birthday. A couple of weeks ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I ran across a post from All Around Alton, Illinois with 12 painted rocks in the photo. What do rocks have to do with Robert Wadlow’s birthday? Well…since Robert Wadlow would have been 100 years old on February 22, they began a fun way of celebrating with #RobertRocks. Beginning on Wednesday, February 21, they started hiding one rock a week somewhere in Alton that has a tie to Robert Wadlow. They then post a clue on their Facebook page at All Around Alton, Illinois…and the hunt begins!

What does this mean for you? Well…you’re already staying at Heartland Lodge so you’ve got your accommodations and meals covered. So why not add a little road trip & head to Alton so you can join in all the fun? All Around Alton will be hiding a rock a week for the next nine weeks through Wednesday, May 2nd so guess what? Wednesday, March 9th will be the third week for a rock to be hidden…so you still have time to join in on the search!

So how do you go about finding these rocks? The Alton Visitor Center has made it easy for you! Every Wednesday, a clue will be posted on their Facebook page at All Around Alton, Illinois on where that week’s rock is hidden…but keep in mind that it will be hidden in a place associated with Robert Wadlow. Then, once you’ve searched and found the painted rock, you just post a picture of you…and the rock…or just the rock…on their Facebook page and tag @VisitAlton and #RobertRocks in your post.

But what if you’re not the lucky person to find a rock? Don’t worry! You can still help celebrate the Gentle Giant’s birthday. Stop by the Alton Visitor Center and sign the birthday card for Robert. They also have t-shirts for sale to commemorate this birthday milestone. You can also use the #RememberingWadlow when posting your stories so they can add them to their Family Album.

And don’t forget to go see the statue of Robert Wadlow located at 2810 College Avenue in Alton. That’s exactly what a couple of friends and I did last Wednesday…but instead of “Where’s Waldo”, we asked “Where’s Wadlow?” We missed finding the rock…but grabbed lunch at Mac’s, took some photos (naturally), and learned a little bit of history. We ran out of time so we didn’t make it to the Alton Museum of History & Art but we were told that there are several artifacts from Wadlow’s life on display there. We are already talking about another road trip with more time!

So after enjoying brunch at the lodge, head to Alton and go on your very own rock hunt. Just remember to watch for the clues each Wednesday between now and May 2. Who knows? You may end up with one of these painted rocks to keep as a souvenir of your time in Alton!

Lori Biehl

Eighteen-Year-In-a-Row Guest

Last Updated: March 6th, 2018

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