PARK CITY Do not be alarmed this fall or call the Humane Society, PETA and/or an eye doctor if you happen to see a life-size moose decked out in a Hawaiian shirt and sandals.
Or one with wings. Or another with antlers and horns (saxophones, trumpets, trombones, you name it). Or others decorated in blue tones or in mosaic designs or with motorcycle parts or looking Picasso-ish.
Moose with designer makeovers will become as commonplace in Park City as snow bunnies with designer makeovers.
"There are not too many people who've stood next to a moose and lived to tell about it," joked Rebecca Lyman, the project's co-chairman.
That will change this fall when a moose migration, an arts fund-raiser reminiscent of Chicago's famed "Cows on Parade" art extravaganza, hits town. Davis County did a similar themed money-making project in 2002 with the "Utah Buffalo Roundup." Communities elsewhere have creatively dressed up and paraded all sorts of fiberglass animals, from lizards to sea turtles.
The Park City undertaking, dubbed "Moose on the Loose," will benefit the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, the Egyptian Theatre and the Kimball Arts Center.
In all, 21 of the four-legged mountain mammals no worries, they're not real will be decorated in a plethora of funky themes by select artists. The "moose-terpieces" will then be placed in visible and accessible sites around Park City, where they'll be displayed through the end of the year before being auctioned off.
Organizers hope to earn $150,000 from the bidding and from related merchandise. Factoring in construction and delivery, each moose costs about $3,000 before they're even decorated. The artists are volunteering their time and talents to the project. Most live in Park City, but one moose was recently delivered to a painter in Santa Fe, N.M.
Bill Kranstover, a local artist who made the Olympic flame on Main Street, had never used a moose for a canvas before. He will probably put 50 hours into fine-tuning his whimsical moose, which will actually play music and be adorned with 25 band horns donated by Summerhays.
"Moosic," he said. "It'll be a lot of fun."
Once artists finish, the newborn moose will be welcomed to the world in the local newspaper with a birth announcement and a new home at Kimball Junction, on Main Street, at ski resorts, etc. Eventually, moose trail maps will be available at the Chamber of Commerce and at local merchants. The Web site www.mooseontheloosepc.com will soon show off the collection.
Lyman has also spent innumerable hours getting each moose ready for the artists. When she receives a moose from an East Coast factory, it is simply a taxidermy mannequin made of foam and plaster. She has to attach the antlers, hooves and the dangling flap of neck skin called the wattle. She's doing that time-consuming dirty work in, of all places, David Belz's yoga studio.
"It's the most interesting and most complicating thing I've ever done," Lyman said. "I've just been moosing around."
After adhering the missing parts, the moose are covered with fiberglass in Salt Lake City. Once completed and placed on a stand, each moose will be about 7 1/2 feet tall, 9 feet long and weigh 250 pounds.
It's no wonder motorists rubberneck and gawk at Lyman and act like they've never seen a moose in a back seat before when she drives up Parleys Canyon after the fiberglassing process. Some people even snap photos and pull out video cameras.
"There wasn't anybody who wasn't looking and smiling," she laughed. "They're unusual creatures."
They'll be even more unusual after the artists are done with them.
That's why you shouldn't be too surprised if you're driving around Park City and you see a life-size moose with cross-country skis and boots or one with Hollywood-like special effects or another named "Mother Moose" with a basket of golden eggs.