Ed Rendell came up with the idea. Obviously.
A collection of 57 painted donkey statues will decorate Philadelphia during the months of July and August, the former governor and current chairman of the Democratic National Convention host committee announced today at a press conference. The point of the donkeys, he says, is to get Philadelphians excited about this summer’s Democratic Convention and encourage delegates to visit different parts of the city. We’re guessing it doesn’t hurt that the donkeys will inevitably inspire tons of photo-ops and selfies, too.
“You all remember the bulls or the cows in Chicago,” Rendell said. “I thought, what a great idea to have donkeys around town. … The host committee wants this to be a great convention for the Democratic Party, but we also want it to be a great convention for the people of Philadelphia.”
The donkeys are made of fiberglass and weigh about 250 pounds apiece. They are being painted by artists to evoke each of the 50 states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C. and the group Democrats Abroad. The Pennsylvania donkey was on display at Tuesday’s news conference. It features the state’s coat of arms, the state bird, the state flower and other accoutrements.
“I will give two tickets to the next Philadelphia 76ers championship game to anybody — who didn’t work for the state — who can tell me what the state flower is,”Rendell joked. “Four tickets to the 76ers if you can tell me what the state bird is!”
So where are these donkeys going to be placed? Officials didn’t provide a full list of locations, but Rendell rattled off a few spots that will get a statue: Independence Beer Garden, Clef Club, Betsy Ross House, Art Museum, Comcast Plaza, Cira Centre and the Porch at 30th Street Station.
Rendell also said that the host committee is going to organize a scavenger hunt involving the donkey statues. “Participants will utilize a mobile application to complete interactive challenges at each donkey location to accumulate points,” he said, “and as they accumulate points, there will be prizes.”
Jane Golden, founder of the Mural Arts Program, said at the press conference that 28 artists had been selected to paint the donkeys out of a pool of 150 who were invited to apply. “Any time we can find opportunities to shine a light on the talent that resides in the city is a good day for us,” she said, “and this project gives a lot of people the opportunity to express themselves.”
Meanwhile, Marcel Groen, the head of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, used the opportunity to explain why he thinks donkeys are a good symbol for Democrats. “I think the donkey represents stability. The donkey is not flashy. The donkey happens to be a very down-to-earth animal, and frankly just part of the common folks,” he said. “Not common folks, common animals. And isn’t that what Democrats really are?”
If you’re wondering whether any taxpayer money was used to decorate Philly with dozens of symbols of the Democratic Party, the DNC host committee’s Angela Val said the answer is no. “No, it did not,” she said. “The host committee is going to fund it, and the whole project is going to be a little less than $200,000,” added Rendell.
Follow @hollyotterbein on Twitter.