With a thumbs up from one worker to another, cranes slowly took the construction of the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach to a new level last week: up.
Cranes started hoisting the legs of the A-frames that will hold the Ferris wheel, pleasing a crowd of onlookers - many of whom came with cameras to capture what some said was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
"It's something so unusual, we would never see this," said Tom Kirby of Lansing, N.Y., who has stopped by the site three consecutive days this week to watch the work. "You can't beat seeing this go up."
The work - the start of "vertical" construction - is the latest step in putting together the 200-foot-high Ferris wheel, which officials say is on track to open in May along with the adjacent restaurant, Jimmy Buffett's Land Shark Bar & Grill.
The $12 million attraction, being built on the oceanfront beside Plyler Park, will change downtown Myrtle Beach's skyline and is expected to lure visitors to the area. Crews have spent the past few weeks installing more than 100 pilings and pouring mounds of concrete to support the massive structure.
"It's a big day," said Julie Foshage, the SkyWheel's marketing director. "It's the first time you are going to get a perspective of how high the SkyWheel will be."
The wheel, which will have 42 temperature-controlled gondolas and a light show, is the second major attraction to open in downtown Myrtle Beach in as many years. The $6 million boardwalk debuted last year and stretches a little more than a mile.
Some of the tourists watching the work last week said they'd try out the wheel when they come back next year. Each ride will last 10 to 12 minutes and do three loops.
"It looks like it's going to be something, no doubt about it," Kirby said. "It will be quite an attraction."