Coronavirus: The County Tyrone hay bale superheroes

By Ali Gordon
BBC News NI

Published
Hay bales decorated as superheroesImage source, Two Castles Community Festival
Image caption,
Spiderman, Batman, Superwoman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman and Captain America are attracting lots of visitors

Meet the hay bale superheroes reminding people that "together we are a super power" in the fight against coronavirus.

After weeks of planning, the 12ft (3.65m) high structures have been erected in a County Tyrone field.

Spiderman, Batman, Superwoman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman and Captain America are attracting lots of visitors.

"There have been people queuing up to see it," one of the designers told BBC News NI.

Image source, Ciara McSorley
Image caption,
Ella and Flynn McSorley with Wonder Woman

In recent years the field, on the Newtownstewart bypass, has been home to hay bales which have been transformed into a giant teddy bear, Toy Story 4 and Wizard of Oz characters, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The attraction raises money for charity and promotes a community festival.

But this year, there's a very important message behind the theme.

"We thought we'd use the bales as a message for Covid-19 - that superheroes represent us, the people, who are key weapons in the battle against coronavirus," said Shauneen Kilpatrick.

"The superheroes are supposed to be representative of each and every person and the weapons we've been given to fight the battle is social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask.

"We want to reinforce the message that we are all in this together, especially now when there's a threat of a second wave and we are seeing spikes in the number of cases.

"It's another way of reminding people that we should all be complying and not to get complacent."

Image source, Two Castles Community Festival

Creating the structures is a team effort.

"It starts with finding something that people like and then doing a few sketches to try to work out how the concept works with the bales," said Ms Kilpatrick.

"You then have work out what materials to use, whether you want wooden structures or what works best.

Image source, Two Castles Community Festival

"We have a great team though. You have to work out the positions of the bales and how to balance them which is no easy job.

"To get them that high, you have to balance them properly and then they are structured with iron bars and posts to give them stability.

"Everyone does their best to make the concept come alive.

Image source, Ciara McSorley
Image caption,
Jude McSorley on his visit

"You have to be public-minded too and make sure the public are safe when they come to visit.

"You don't realise how high they are until you see people beside them and then you realise just how big they are, but that's what draws people to them.

"The reaction has been amazing, it's been so positive."