GOOD THUNDER — Margie Pasbrig doesn't do much explaining when she decides to bring her friends and family out to Arnie Lillo's place for the first time.
It would take hours to describe all of the metal silhouettes and gadgets that have made the transformation from a wandering blip of an idea in Lillo's mind to the overwhelming scenes that decorate his 13-acre spread between Mankato and Good Thunder. So Pasbrig chooses to let visitors see for themselves.
"I don't tell them anything about it," she said. "I just tell them I'm taking them on a surprise trip and they sure are surprised when they get there."
Lillo's most known accomplishment is the series of silhouettes that tell the story of the James-Younger Gang's famous trip to Minnesota: The foiled bank robbery in Northfield, their escape and the capture of the Younger brothers outside Madelia. It's a park by itself, but it's only a fraction of all there is to take in at Lillo's place.
There's the gigantic eagles' nest that towers above a series of silhouettes with a Native American theme behind his shop. Out front is his first project, a huge weather vane he built in 1996. A metal playground is highlighted by a 12-foot-tall elephant full of holes that make climbing easy for kids. A metal palm tree and umbrella surrounded by sand are the start of what will someday be a beach side tiki bar for adults.
Lillo admits he can get sidetracked by unexpected projects that pop up during his 12-hour days in the metal shop.
"There are times I go to the shop and I've got my day all planned," Lillo said. "By the time I get going everything changes.