News Release: October 30, 2019

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Recognized as “People’s Choice” Great Place

CHICAGO (October 30, 2019) — The voters have spoken! Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson, North Carolina, has been selected as the 2019 “People’s Choice” designation through the American Planning Association's (APA) national flagship program, Great Places in America.

For the sixth year, APA asked the public for nominations for the annual “People’s Choice” designee. Throughout October, individuals offered suggestions via APA’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds using the hashtag #APAgreatplaces. Voters then took to APA’s website to select their favorite of the top three finalists.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park rose to the top of the polls alongside Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville, Minnesota, and Davis Square in Somerville, Massachusetts. Whirligig Park was named the winner following an incredible surge of public support in the final tally.

The Great Places in America program kickstarts APA’s countdown to National Community Planning Month each October. Since launching the program in 2007, APA has recognized 303 neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces located across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces are recognized as unique and exemplary in their success stories of revitalization and cultural identity, and for creating strong community connection.

About Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park

Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Wilson, North Carolina, Whirligig Park showcases the awe-inspiring “whirligigs” of local artist Vollis Simpson. The grassroots movement to preserve Simpson’s towering masterpieces first began in 2010. It has since grown into a public/private partnership of residents, local leaders, artists, youth groups, and other stakeholders engaged in the creative placemaking project.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson, North Carolina, was voted the 2019 People's Choice Great Place in America.

The two-acre park features 30 of Vollis Simpson’s kinetic whirligigs; a large, open-air pavilion for community events; a central grass amphitheater; and specialty night lighting to dazzle park visitors. Whirligig Park has proven a source of economic revitalization for Historic Downtown Wilson, as well as a gathering place for residents and tourists alike to enjoy education, entertainment, and the legacy of Wilson’s own Vollis Simpson.

Earlier this year, Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park was also named the winner of the APA North Carolina Chapter’s People’s Choice for Great Public Art.

In addition to Whirligig Park being designated a "People's Choice" Great Place, the following Great Places in America were also recognized by APA in 2019:

Great Neighborhoods

  • Downtown Lee’s Summit – Lee’s Summit, Missouri
  • Downtown Patchogue Village – Patchogue, New York
  • Short North Arts District – Columbus, Ohio
  • Historic Downtown Delaware – Delaware, Ohio

Great Public Spaces

  • Pioneer Park – Mesa, Arizona
  • Neponset River Greenway – Boston and Milton, Massachusetts
  • Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook – Amsterdam, New York
  • Governors Island – New York, New York
  • Gathering Place – Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Discovery Green – Houston, Texas

Great Streets

  • Artery Hopkins – Hopkins, Minnesota
  • Water Street – Henderson, Nevada
  • Cleveland Street – Redmond, Washington

Learn more about each of this year’s designees.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides vital leadership in creating great communities for all. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the profession of planning — physical, economic, and social — to foster quality of life for all residents. The 45,000 members work in concert with community members, civic leaders, and business interests to create communities that enrich people's lives. Through its philanthropic work, the APA Foundation helps to reduce economic and social barriers to planning. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Learn more at

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Roberta Rewers, APA,, 312-786-6395

November 1, 2019