Vandals create problems for ‘Big Chair’ roadside attraction
MOUNT BETHEL, Pa. (AP) — A giant Adirondack chair, known affectionately to locals as “The Big Chair,” offers expansive views of Northampton County from its publicly accessible perch on Route 191 in Upper Mount Bethel Township.
The roadside landmark, which stands 14 feet high by 7 feet wide, has been a welcome respite for sightseers and weary travelers for the past four years. But the chair also has attracted the attention of vandals who have bedeviled it with trash, graffiti and disrespect — prompting its owners to consider removing it from the scenic overlook.
At the very least, members of the Klaver family say they intend to put boulders in front of the overlook in order to prevent vehicles from driving in and dumping.
“To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to take it down,” said Ale Klaver, the owner of the chair and the seven-acre overlook he cleared for it.
Klaver, who lives nearby the roadside attraction and owns Klaver’s Automotive and Towing, says he gets too much joy from the dozens of visitors who stop at the wooden landmark, which even has its own Facebook page with more than 500 followers.
Klaver has seen bands take a seat in the chair for the perfect album cover shot. He’s seen wedding parties stop by, and heard plenty of stories from locals who appreciate the Klaver family keeping the chair available to the public.
“One person where I get my coffee every morning said her grandkids call it ‘God’s Chair,’” Klaver said.
But recently, the chair has fallen on hard times: It has been knocked over several times, and has been defaced with sometimes-profane graffiti. About two weeks ago, someone dumped a box truck load of garbage, which included mattresses, couches, paperwork, toys and clothing at the overlook, said Klaver’s daughter-in-law Danielle Klaver.
“This is the worst that’s happened to it as of now,” she said.
Every time, the community has come together to roll the chair back over, or to give it a fresh coat of paint, Ale Klaver said.
A post on the chair’s Facebook page about the illegal dumping garnered nearly 300 comments from fans willing to chip in for the cost of removing the garbage and imploring the Klavers “not to take the chair away.” Danielle Klaver said if the chair is removed from the overlook, it would probably will be permanently dismantled and not moved to another location.
The garbage has yet to be removed from the site because the family is working with state police to identify the culprit. Police recovered two names and addresses from the waste, Danielle Klaver said.
The hope is that if the offender can be positively identified, they’ll be responsible for the cleanup.
To Bangor resident Donna Fritz, who passes the chair every day on her way to work in East Stroudsburg, the overlook is a great place to stop and grab a picture of sunrise.
“It’s a shame that people have to ruin a good thing,” Fritz said.
Fritz remembers that when she moved to the area four years ago, she saw the chair for the first time, and then decided to come back with her daughters Lauryn and Ashlyn.
“Every time I drive by there is someone standing there taking a picture, whether it’s a picture of the view or the chair. A lot of people like it,” Fritz said.
The senior Klaver said he got the chair from the Jacktown-Blue Mountain Antique Gas & Steam Engine Association in Bangor.
Members of the group used rough-cut lumber to make the chair, and it was at the association’s property on Richmond Road for several years. But the group ran into liability issues from children climbing on it, Klaver explained.
One of the members asked Klaver if he wanted take the chair.
For a couple years, it sat on a flatbed truck behind the family’s automotive business, until Klaver decided to clear the property he owns on Route 191 and created the overlook.
Upper Mount Bethel Township Supervisor Rick Fisher hopes the Klavers don’t dismantle the chair, but said he understands why they might make that decision.
About the same time someone dumped garbage at The Big Chair, there was an instance of illegal dumping on township property along Marshfield Drive about 10 miles away, Fisher said.
A name was also recovered from the Marshfield Drive site.
“We know there were two trucks that cleaned out a house and we think one or both of those trucks were dumped on Marshfield,” Fisher said.
It’s not clear if the two incidents are connected, but Fisher said the township has also been working with state police.
“So many thousands of people have enjoyed that chair and taken photographs and looked out at our beautiful township from that viewpoint,” Fisher said. “It’s a shame a few people can ruin something that so many enjoy.”
Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com