Herky proves a light-headed mascot
A photo caption in the Nov. 17 fyi incorrectly identified Iowas football mascot as a "papier-mâché-noggined raptor." In fact, the last time Herky sported a head made of papier-mâché was 1988. Since then the Iowa mascot has been crowned with a lighter-weight pate made of fiberglass. Thanks for spotting the wrong-headed caption go to Frank Turner, chemistry lab machinist. Turner ought to know. He made the fiberglass heads himself.
"I was self-employed in 1988 when I built these things," Turner said. "I was contacted by the athletic department to make them. I do a lot of work with fiberglass, and Im a plastics molder by trade. The original heads were papier-mâché and plaster, and they weighed around 16 or 18 pounds. Of course, the students would put on a football helmet underneath it and pack towels around their shoulders.
"I took the old heads and reproduced them out of fiberglass. That got it down to about six pounds. It has an adjustable football helmet inside it so just about anybody can wear it. It also has a battery-powered electric fan for warm days. I also made a smaller head for wrestling and basketball."
If a giant fiberglass Herky head is on your holiday gift list this year, dont get your hopes up. The heads are licensed, and Turner had to turn over his molds to the University after he finished his work. Theyre now property of the athletic department.
Those wishing to get a glimpse of Turners handiwork neednt wait until the next sporting event. Just take a ride to the Syrian Mosque on 1st Avenue in Cedar Rapids. The onion dome that has topped the building since 1972 is another of Turners fiberglass creations.
But does it have a fan in it?
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