KINGSPORT TN, (WJHL)- Wednesday’s July 4th celebration at Pratt’s Barbeque served a dual purpose as the restaurant unveiled the return of it’s beloved ‘Big John.’
The statue stood tall over the restaurant, facing East Stone Drive for many years, that is until Big John suffered a broken neck, and had to undergo cosmetic surgery.
Pratt’s General Manager, April Conley, said a Virginia-based company stepped in to help make an exact replica.
This time, Big John’s head will only weigh about 16lbs, where as before it was closer to 50lbs.
Conley told us Wednesday this is a lighter, safer, and more durable version.
“He’s got a much more defined face, brand new headdress, he is being promoted to ‘Chief John’, so we feel like after all he’s been through he deserved to be a chief…probably around $7,000 for everything and the headdress probably cost us an extra two of that but that’s okay we were happy to do it,” Conley said.
Wednesday’s celebration included food, fun for the kids, and the chance to win prizes.
The big reveal at 1p.m. brought in dozens of people eager to know what Big John would look like after his makeover.
“After his head fell, we felt very bad but now his head is fixed…he looks amazing now,” 10-year-old Elizabeth Stanic said.
“I think it looks better than it did, they did a great job,”Gregory Watterson said.
“Yeah, much better, he looks great,” Kim Stanic said.
“It’s very very pretty,” 6-year-old Faith Travis said.
For those that may be wondering what happened to Big John’s old head, well Conley said he’s also been refurbished and will be placed inside the restaurant.
Big John was built in 1954, and was brought to the East Stone Drive restaurant in 1970.