Not every boardwalk in the U.S. is protected by a Roman god. Virginia Beach is different. And people notice.
“Most sculptures disappoint people when they’re unveiled,” a Virginia Beach woman told me. “But not this one. We’re really proud of that sculpture.”
She was here when the sculpture was unveiled and loves it, she said. I met her when she approached me to ask where I was from and if I wanted a picture with Neptune. As she stood with Neptune greeting strangers, her dog greeted each passing dog.
To fully appreciate this god, you need to take a full view of his presence. Let these photographs show you how dolphins, an octopus, and fish wrap around his massive physique to create a god still emerging from the rocky water. A modest god keeping his nether regions under cover.
Even with dolphins at the rear, Neptune commands attention.
Admirers are drawn to Neptune and wait their turn for a selfie.
A friend I met up with at the beach commented how Neptune seems different each time we pass him. I agree he has a certain aliveness to him, though I never catch him moving.
His statistics are impressive. The posted Neptune historical marker says he weighs 12 ½ tons, stands 34 feet tall with shoulders 12 feet across and a 6 ½ foot head. The loggerhead turtle is 11 feet long. The rocks weigh 100,000 lbs. and 8 ½ tons of bronze were used.
He was created by sculptor Paul DiPasquale of Richmond Virginia in 2005.
The marker also states, “Neptune stands as the protector of citizen and visitor and is symbolic of the City of Virginia Beach …”
Neptune is the god of freshwater and the sea. Though I don’t know much about Roman mythology, I can tell you that he keeps a clean boardwalk with neon-vested workers perpetually looking around and under benches, bushes, everywhere to pick up trash.
As a representative of all that is attractive about Virginia Beach, Neptune fills his role dutifully. Posing for group pictures and selfies with the patience and duty of a god.
I can’t help but want to see him show off his power. One morning I catch him in the act of holding onto the sun, just for a moment, as he keeps it from rising with his loyal loggerhead turtle still in hand.