SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – All Hail the Whale.
At least, that’s the rallying cry for Utah’s internet users on Reddit. The whale statue that sits proudly on the roundabout located at 900 South and 1100 East in Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th neighborhood has become a cult icon for users on the Utah-based Salt Lake City subreddit.
In the year since the whale was put into place, it has taken a life on its own, including its own internet following. When asked why Reddit users worship the whale, users explained it’s largely due to Utah’s endless winter.
During the 2021-22 winter season, Utah had a dismal winter. Utah’s Snow Water Equivalent peaked at 12.0 in March, well below the average peak of 14.3, usually in April. January 2022 was also incredibly dry as the Salt Lake area only received 1.43 inches of precipitation and 12.7 inches of snow throughout the month.
Enter the whale.
In April 2022, the whale was put into place and now Utah is experiencing one of its wettest winters on record, breaking the 30-year-old Snow Water Equivalent record. A user even graphed out the precipitation levels, dividing the timeline into “B.W.,” or “Before Whale,” and “A.W.,” or “After Whale.” The graph is telling, showing a sharp rise in precipitation levels after the 9th and 9th whale was put in place.
Reddit users have had fun with the whale’s imagery, making it a part of the new state flag, and even suggesting Smith’s Ballpark becomes “The Church of the Sacred Whale of Ninth-and-Ninth,” once the Bees move out in 2025.
The whale was not always looked at so fondly. When the sculpture — actually named “Out of the Blue” — was announced, it received criticism from online users who questioned, why a whale?
Many commentators on the Salt Lake Arts website pointed out that a whale in a landlocked state made no sense or that it encouraged and welcomed graffiti into the area.
The artist, Stephen Kesler, took inspiration from input from the 9th and 9th community. Kesler received over 100 responses to help guide his art.
“9th and 9th is unexpected and out of the blue,” explained Kesler when the artwork was announced. “A community where people from all backgrounds, beliefs and ideas migrate and feel a sense of belonging. A community that bursts through expectations; commanding respect for nature, others’ ideas and identities.”
Salt Lake Arts said the humpback whale is a symbol of community, resilience and harmony.
For Reddit users, it might symbolize better things ahead, even if it is a little tongue-in-cheek.