Moosin’ around: Local moose statue a community celebrity, focal point
WINTER PARK — Dressed in a crimson coat with ornaments dangling from its antlers, the bronze moose statue, currently located at the entrance to Hideaway Park in Winter Park, is a well-known local personality at this point thanks to its ever-changing outfits.
Since 2008, the statue previously sat in front of the Winter Park – Fraser Chamber of Commerce building, but it wasn’t until the Halloween of 2011 that the Chamber staff had the idea to get the moose a costume. From there a local celebrity was born.
“It just came to us,” said Catherine Ross, executive director of the Chamber. “We were trying lots of different things at that time to build community pride and do something fun.”
Currently, the statue that was outside the Chamber building is resting in Hideaway Park while the new Rendezvous Center is built, which will house the Rendezvous sales center, the Chamber offices and the Winter Park Visitor’s Center.
The moose statue at the entrance to Hideaway Park is actually one of a pair of moose statues, the other one was placed in front of the Rendezvous Fraser entrance in 2004.
Dana Keller, vice president of sales and marketing for Koelbel, which is Rendezvous’s parent company, said the second moose statue was originally commissioned for the entrance of Rendezvous Winter Park, but ended up being donated to the town of Winter Park and placed in front of the Chamber to commemorate the street name change to Rendezvous Way.
“The moose has become an iconic presence in downtown Winter Park and creates a memory point for all who visit, particularly when decorated,” Keller said. “It is a valuable symbol for the Chamber Visitors Center.”
Once the Rendezvous Center is completed in the summer of 2020, the moose statue will return to its rightful spot, Keller said.
Both moose statues were designed by Montana artist Robert Tate. Keller said they chose a moose for the statues because it is the logo for Rendezvous and because it is emblematic of the wildlife in Grand County.
Ross said the moose statue has allowed Chamber staff to have some fun with their work and now they dress it regularly for holidays and events, including a doctor’s coat for health fairs and a beer helmet for the Winter Park Beer Festival.
The statue even has a local costume maker, Tabernash resident Jill Childress, who has made its Father Christmas outfit and doctor’s coat.
“I don’t think (the community) has that same affinity for the one down the street and I do think it’s because we dress him,” Ross said. “It’s just something to talk about.”
However, despite having a vast wardrobe and adoring fans, the moose statue doesn’t have a name. Ross said that might be something they have to fix once the statue is back at its permanent residence.
“We’ll see if (Rendezvous) wants to do something fun like that,” she laughed. “When they put him in it was just to be pretty and the community has come together to make him a thing.”
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Editor’s note: The following letter to the community was submitted to the Sky-Hi News by Winter Park Mayor Nick Kutrumbos.