Farmville’s troll population increases

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 24, 2020

The story of the trolls under High Bridge on Mill Street in Farmville is growing.

It was back in Sept. 2017 that Sully and his two children, Bonez and Betty Lou, first took up residency under the segment of High Bridge Trail State Park passing over Mill Street.

Sully was a divorced single troll parent who had gained full custody of the troll children. However, new reports indicate that as of April 5, 2020, Sully has once again found marital bliss.

A female troll has joined him under the bridge, and the children now have a slightly perturbed dog with the name “Spot” on his collar.

The trolls and Spot were brought to life via the artistic talents of Audrey Sullivan, the founder of Red Door 104, a studio/gallery space on North Main Street.

“This was for Farmville,” she said of the latest additions under the bridge, thinking about residents sheltering in place amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “They need something when they come out of this.”

The trolls rarely agree to interviews, but Sullivan has proven to be a reliable source of information about what Sully and company are up to since she created them.

“To me, this is a continuing story,” she said.

In 2017, she spent seven hours across Sept. 13-14 initiating the story by painting Sully and his children. In 2020, she spent five more hours April 5 adding the female troll and Spot.

Sullivan said that as she worked under the bridge earlier this month, High Bridge Trail State Park Manager Daniel Jordan directed any traffic that came through. At one point a woman stopped under the bridge and asked if Sullivan was going to name the female troll Corona.

Sullivan recalled that Jordan said, “How about just Rona?”

“And I said, ‘Yes, that’s it,’” Sullivan added. “So she’s Rona.”

The inspiration behind Sullivan creating Rona was simple.

“Sully looked lonely,” Sullivan said. “Yeah, I just think Sully looked grumpy, and I thought a woman would cheer him up. And I also thought a woman would cheer up Farmville after they get out (of the house). She is probably a really good field trip for children right now. Parents need to get out of the house? Get in the car, and take a ride. Drop her off a watermelon.”

Cars approaching the underpass from either side of Mill Street are greeted by town-maintained signs asking people not to feed the trolls. Sullivan noted some have disregarded the instruction, presenting watermelons and cantaloupes to the trolls and commemorating the moment with photos.

“I’ve seen quite a few of them,” Sullivan said.

Before applying her paint brush to the walls of the bridge, Sullivan did original drawings on paper to sketch out what the trolls and their dog would look like. She said Sully and Rona look mostly the same from paper to wall, but Spot looks different because of the condition of the bridge wall.

“This wall dictated how to paint him because it was so pitted, it’s so rough,” she said. “I couldn’t draw the hairs the way I wanted to, so I had to go with the wall.”

Sullivan said Rona brought Spot for the benefit of the children.

“Stepmom needs to win the kids over, and that’s how she won them over,” Sullivan said. “She came with the dog.”

It stands to reason the continuing story of the trolls under High Bridge on Mill Street has more chapters yet to be told. To that end, Sullivan pondered whether or not there might be another addition to the family in nine months or so.

The narrative that Sullivan started with Sully seems to be trending in a positive direction for him, making it a fitting balm for the uncertain times Farmville residents find themselves living in.

“He does seem happier,” Sullivan said.

Photos by Titus Mohler