The summer travel season is a competitive business here in Gatlinburg Tenn., capisce?
You can’t roll out here with your spectacular views, your craft beers, your tasty barbecue and expect to make a dent with the summer crowd.
You gotta be big. You gotta be bold. You gotta wow ‘em, kid. This is the big time.
You gotta give them what they want.
What do they want? Well, I’ll tell you.
They want an 8 by 12 foot leafy, living couch built (or perhaps in this case, grown?) by a guy from Tellico Plains, Tenn. named ‘Topiary Joe’.
Why do they want that?
Selfies, baby, the people love selfies.
This limited-time, larger-than-life creation made its official debut, ironically, on Friday, March 13 at Anakeesta Plaza along the Gatlinburg Parkway.
Little did any of us know at the time, only one week later, half the town would be shut down over 2020 health and safety concerns.
Despite its abruptly stunted debut, the popularity of this leafy masterpiece has been overwhelming – attracting hundreds of selfie-seekers daily.
Where did the green couch come from?
Anakeesta’s green couch is part of a series of legendary living sculptures featured at destinations worldwide and in national advertising campaigns with actors like Kevin Hart.
Anakeesta joins a noteworthy list of customers – including Google, Disney World and even the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles and Camilla – to work with the sculpture’s artist Joe Kyte, a.k.a. ‘Topiary Joe’.
Kyte honed his craft and developed his love for topiary sculpting while working for a Danish horticultural company. The company was instrumental in introducing hydroponics to the U.S. and Canada through a project at Disney World, a park known for its unique horticultural displays. Many of the pieces Kyte worked on while working with that company still remain at the Disney today.
He has since made a name for himself as an artist with unique displays and creations that have been seen all over the world.
“I want my designs to be accurate and have movement to them. The type of plants used depends largely on the region and country the topiary will live,” says Kyte on his website.
“It has been an honor building for many fine people in this world. The main thing is to make kids smile.”
Do you need to purchase an admission ticket to see the couch?
Topiary Joe’s creation is on display at Anakeesta Plaza near the chondala entrance. Guests do not need a daily admission ticket to enjoy this particular art installation.
However, as always, we highly recommend a visit to Anakeesta any chance you get.
“Get off your couch and onto Anakeesta’s SUPERSIZED couch outdoors to create and capture those larger-than-life, forever memories,” says Karen Bentz, Anakeesta co-founder. “At Anakeesta, we like to say ‘Go big or go home!’”
Fun props will be on hand all summer to make all visitor photos at Anakeesta’s SUPERSIZE scene extra fun. Guests are also encouraged to use the hashtag #MeetYouAtTheCouch when posting their pictures to social media.
How long will the green couch be on display at Anakeesta?
Guests can enjoy this enchanting display now through August 18 on Anakeesta Plaza.
While you’re there, don’t forget to check out Anakeesta and their newest $6.5M expansion featuring TreeVenture, AnaVista Tower and an all new scenic overlook – all of which are now open as of summer 2020.
Additional new areas, set to open September 2020 include:
- A new restaurant
- A new open-air shopping area
- A kid’s water play area
- A mountaintop firepit
- A walk-up bar for local craft brews
Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. To learn more about Anakeesta or to purchase tickets, visit them online at Anakeesta.com.