As far as famous statues go, the statue of King Neptune on the Boardwalk of Virginia Beach isn’t a very old one. It was built in honor of the annual Neptune Festival at Virginia Beach, an elaborate and traditional party celebrated for upwards of forty years (and still going strong!) in 2005, though plans existed years prior. That doesn’t mean it’s not impressive, or any less important to the locals – as far as a sight for sore eyes, a humongous, intimidating ancient god rising from the Atlantic Ocean and looking upon us mere mortals is up there on the list, at least in our book.
What the statue looks like
And it truly does rise, at least if you squint the right way. If you stand from a strategic point of Neptune Park (named aptly, considering) and gaze upon the bearded, godly figure, he gives the illusion of rising from the sea, trident in hand, as if he just broke the surface of the water to greet us lowly humans. Neptune, the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon, was a fearsome, powerful figure who swore to protect the sea and all its inhabitants, and smited all those who dared to interfere with his goal. His likeness stands with this same goal in mind, according to the artist, Paul DiPasquale, reminding locals and tourists alike that Virginia Beach is a place of maritime wonder, one that deserves both respect and admiration. Although he stands to protect, Neptune himself also seems to be tipping his metaphorical hat to the city — with such a strong past with the sea, Virginia Beach is as worthy a place as any for him to show up.\
And he shows up in style, if the dolphins, squids, and massive sea turtle he holds in one hand are anything to show for it, all of them welcoming others to share the beach with him, right on the intersection of city and sea.
Where the statue came from
Built entirely through contributions of the Neptune Festival, the 34-foot cast bronze statue is dedicated to the city of Virginia Beach and its citizens. There was a Neptune Contest to decide who deserved the honor of building such an important (and large) addition, and artists from all over the world were considered. Funnily enough, the choice was ultimately local. Paul DiPasquale, an accomplished artist who had already made several contributions to both American and European sculpture art, is based in Virginia. Not only did he design and complete the project entirely on his own, he then accompanied his masterpiece to China, where it was cast in iron and then brought back to Virginia to find its new home at the shore. He now continues his artistic endeavors in Virginia, and allegedly visits his statue whenever he needs to be reminded of the majestic sea.