Has the marathon stampede of fiberglass buffalo finally run its course?
Isn't it about time to look north and eat, drink and be moosey?
Too late. The "Moose in the City" public art campaign that placed 326 moose throughout the streets of Toronto was corraled last week, after earning $1.2 million Canadian.
Moose was a wildly successful campaign, as was "Herd About Buffalo," but perhaps there are some lessons to be learned about public art projects on both sides of the border - just in case either city chooses to mount the effort again.
Is that your final antler?
Vandalism is built into any public art project, organizers will agree, but antler theft in particular haunted Toronto's moose - so much so that some cyber vigilantes launched a Web site called AntlerWatch: Alliance of Nervous Torontonians Leery of Evil Ruffians Who Abscond Taking Cervidae Headgear. It can be found at www.antlerwatch.com.
"You look at these moose and see these majestic projections," said Steven Dengler, one of the founders of AntlerWatch. "Was it too prominent a display of mooseness? Probably."
The watch group, composed entirely of volunteers - mostly "cybergeeks and lawyers," according to Dengler - was not affiliated with the project. Yet it managed to convey the appropriate outrage at what became a point of pride among Toronto's vandals.
(Note: Yes, we know the correct term is rack - as in rack of moose - but we have chosen to abide by antlers, the term our cosmopolitan neighbors have adopted.)
Included in the AntlerWatch Internet campaign were updates, the most recent on Monday, which included the antler status of each moose: present or missing, left or right. Also worth noting was the feedback forum, where interested spectators voiced comments on the antlers, or the moose in general:
nasty vandals plaguing the downtown moose. She may be reached at the above e-mail address."
ugly that I would like to shoot them down. Thanks."
vandalizing public art! By the way, does the city plan on replacing the missing antlers? The moose look rather silly without the antlers. Keep up the good work."
The antlers, by the way, were replaced at a cost of $350 per moose from the project's contingency fund, according to Marilyn Nickel, marketing coordinator for Toronto Special Events. And that was after they were redesigned as a spring-loaded version that was prone to drooping.
Before you do the math, Buffalo, consider this: The Herd had its share of vandalism. Remember the Bart Simpson kidnapping from Niagara Square's Reflections? Or the key severance from Wind Up Round Up on Elmwood Avenue?
But vandalism is part of the game, and there will be dislodged gems and missing blooms, but the point is this: Don't make it easy.
The call of the wild
Gauging the impact of such a public art project is key to launching a sequel.
In Toronto, the Economic Development Department in association with Tourism Toronto, conducted a visitor's survey during two months - August and September - to gauge the impact of the moose on tourism and the economy in general.
Preliminary findings include:
Toronto was influenced by the moose exhibit. This percentage translates into 2 million visitors.
experience of Toronto. Translation: The likelihood of a repeat visit, therefore, is high.
Buffalo's Visitor's and Convention Bureau cited lack of advance time as a factor when asked why no such survey was conducted of Herd visitors here.
Look out below
The Herd had it together - big time - when city restrictions discouraged sponsors from placing Herd members on roofs or walking up buildings (as was the case two years ago in Chicago). An exception, of course, was Snowy Buffalo, perched on a specially constructed grate on the Ferguson Electric building on Ellicott Street.
"If really bad winds came, the buffalo could be ripped from the platform," Patty Capstraw Wilkins said at the time. The project creator and Herd chairwoman lost her battle with cancer last year.
Now consider last year's Canadian National Exposition, where a moose was observed dangling in the sky during the annual air show, getting a bird's-eye view of the city. Maybe it was the lure of a bikini-clad moosette sunning herself on the beach that caused Bruce the Moose to break loose.
"He landed on the beach on one of the Toronto Islands," said Nickel, the marketing coordinator for Toronto Special Events. "He just came falling out of the sky and landed on the beach.
"No one got hurt."
The more the merrier?
Roswell Park Alliance and Burchfield-Penney Art Center were the presenters and benefactors of the Herd not to mention the people of Buffalo, who formed picture-snapping rings around many of its members. Staff and volunteers all will say that the magnitude of their undertaking was something they never could have fathomed. Sponsors, meanwhile, included businesses and private citizens from throughout Western New York.
In Toronto, more than 75 charities benefited from the moose, with sponsors choosing where two-thirds of the proceeds would go. The planning committee had required that one-third of the proceeds would fund Canadian Olympic athletes. Of the charities selected by the sponsors, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children was a popular choice, as was the United Way.
Leave it to a diplomoose.
The Buffalo Moose, a roving polymer-covered ambassador, never made it to Buffalo as planned. Part of a group of traveling moose that spread good will and boosted Torontonian pride, it was scheduled to attend a Buffalo Bills game, according to artist Luke Schaefer.
"It was meant to expose people from Buffalo to what Toronto has to offer," he explained. "It was actually pretty fun. Once you see people's reaction to it, that's the fun part."
Sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Buffalo Moose depicted a winter scene of Ottawa on one side, with the other displaying a vibrant Toronto. On each of its legs Schaefer painted vegetation that is distinctly Canadian: trillium, maple leaves in fall colors, vines from the Niagara Region and bull rushes.
"I came down to Buffalo and I looked everywhere for my moose," Schaefer said. "Every time I called the city (of Toronto), I tried to ask people where it was."
The Buffalo Moose apparently never made it to Buffalo, according to Nickel.
Maybe he couldn't get a ticket to the game.