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August 6, 2004
Volume 42, No. 1

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Gimme an H-E-R-K-Y: Community rallies around celebratory statues
Aiming high and setting an agenda: New provost looks to boost faculty salaries, review the undergraduate experience, and strengthen campus diversity efforts

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Gimme an H-E-R-K-Y:
Community rallies around celebratory statues


Two area youngsters pose in front of the Reflections on U Herky
Two area kids pose for photos with one of their favorite Herkys: Reflections on U. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.
 

Herky contest winners announced

Winners of the pick-your-favorite-Herky contest were drawn at random, in late July, from those who sent in entries of their top picks. Christine Steinbrech, IMU accountant, and Weidong Xu, graduate research assistant for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the Carver College of Medicine, each won two Iowa football tickets to the Sept. 4 Throwback Game against Kent State, courtesy of the athletic department.

Steinbrech’s favorite Herky is the one that looks like Marilyn Monroe. She loves “all the rhinestones and one high heel pump.” Xu chose Dick Tracy Herky because his clothes seem so real and “it really amuses me every time I stop by.” Xu generally enjoys all the Herkys: “I like the parade. It adds value to our everyday life on campus.”

A few readers shared with us the Herkys they would have liked to have seen on parade. Janet Bell, secretary in urban and regional planning in the Graduate College, thinks a Tarzan Herky would be a hoot—especially in a little loincloth with a vine going between his hand-wings. Other possibilities, she says, include Santa Claus Herky, Statue of Liberty Herky, and Cher Herky (“in a sparkly, low-cut silver gown” of course).

Tianfeng Chai, postdoctoral research scholar in the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, suggests that a Herky with a military uniform on might not be a bad idea.

One writer voted to create a President David Skorton Herky—hopefully without a budget-chopping hatchet in his hand!

People want their picture taken with him. Kids strike his pumped-fist pose in the streets. He has received fan mail from as far away as Nevada and Ohio. He’s so loved, 15 more clones of him will appear in September.

He’s Herky on Parade. And he’s everywhere.

“It’s amazing how people have reacted. We’ve been keeping copies of the e-mail we’ve received from people all over the country, telling us how much fun the Herkys are,” says Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A total of 75 Herkys—in honor of Kinnick Stadium’s 75th anniversary—popped up across the area in May. Patterned after the Cows on Parade craze (which started in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1998 and moved to Chicago in ’99), each of the 6-foot, 2-inch, 150-pound Fiberglas Herkys sports a different theme. The bureau and UI athletic department partnered with the cities of Iowa City, Coralville, and University Heights to organize the parade.

Picking a favorite Herky might be a task as difficult—and perhaps as inappropriate—as choosing a favorite child. But ask anyone on the street and they’ll rattle off their top picks, Schamberger says.

The official web site, www.herkyonparade.com, has been featuring weekly polls asking people to vote for their favorites. Those chosen from each week move on to quarterfinal, semifinal, and final pairings, with the final Herky being given the People’s Choice Award. The award will be presented to the winning Herky’s artistic team and sponsors at a fall celebration and auction—when some Herkys will be up for grabs to the highest bidders.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen revealed that voters in its Best of the Area promotion chose Galactic Herky as their favorite. This Herky, standing on the corner of Highway 6 and First Avenue in Coralville, wears a black cape, holds a red light saber, and resembles Star Wars’ Darth Vader.

Reginald Williams, a member of the Press-Citizen Writers’ Group, created his own top 10 list for the Press-Citizen’s May 18 edition. Rough Hewn Herky topped his list. It depicts a piece of art sculpting a piece of art and is what Williams described as “simply an amazing projection of the artistic ideal.”

Schamberger even has an unofficial, anecdotal poll of favorites. Everyone always talks about Hayden Herky, which looks like Coach Hayden Fry. Bigfoot Herky and Incredible Herk are very popular with the kids, he says. And Reflections of U, the shiny, reflective Herky on the Pentacrest, often gets kudos.

Several Iowa City and Coralville residents have been scurrying around this summer to get photos of themselves with all the Herkys. A few are even documenting their quest on personal web sites—which are featured in the “News and Events” section of www.herkyonparade.com.

Here are UI employees’ favorite Herkys:

1) Bigfoot Herky

2) Dick Tracy Herky

3) Hercules Herky, Mythical Greek Hero

4) Harry Carey Herky

5) Reflections of U

6) Elvis Herky

7) Gogh Herky, Gogh Hawkeyes!

8) Hayden Herky

9) Marilyn MonHerky

 

“We continue to get 10 to 20 e-mails per day,” says Rick Klatt, associate athletic director for external affairs. “People are planning trips to football games around it, and it’s generated a lot of fun and awareness for the renovation of Kinnick Stadium.”

When organizers first started planning the Herkyfest, about 40 percent of the 75 Herkys were designed by sponsors. Many incorporated the sponsors’ businesses into the theme, such as Harley Davidson Herky. However, the rest of the ideas came from Iowa artists.

Organizers sent out requests for proposals to 1,500 artists, along with a packet of information that said “we’re doing this crazy thing…send in your design,” Schamberger recalls. Those who won were paid $1,000 to make their ideas reality.

Because there were more than 300 designs that did not get selected, and because the parade has become enormously popular, organizers are rolling out 15 additional Herkys in September, around the stadium. Ten will represent some aspect of Hawkeye history. For instance, Fowl will be a Herky dressed up as a referee from the 1930s, throwing a yellow flag.

The rest of the designs, though, are hush-hush until the unveiling.

“When we started this project, I thought we’d be doing well if we got 30 or 35 entries. We had to cap it at 75. We couldn’t physically coordinate any more,” Schamberger says.

Those 300 extra designs do not even include design suggestions from regular citizens. Doug Henninger of Denver, Colo., wrote in to praise the project and offer his theme ideas.

“Being an avid cyclist and one-week-a-year Iowan on RAGBRAI, I am surprised that some artist didn’t create RAGBRAI Herky,” Henninger writes. “Also, someone could pay homage to your cross-state rivals and create Cyclone Herky.”

Or maybe not.

A woman identified only as “Tim’s Mom” from Council Bluffs told the story of her son who is a first-year student here and a hospital patient who has been waiting for a heart transplant for eight months. She had been telling him about the Herky parade and describing each of the statues to him, since he could not visit them himself.

However, he discovered the Herky on Parade web site, which has pictures of all 75, and can now enjoy them himself.

Tim’s mom writes: “Thanks for bringing a little slice of real life to a young man who is stuck living in the hospital.”

Diane Zirtzman of Iowa City wrote in with a description and sentiment familiar to many Herky-seekers, describing her family’s love for the parade’s characters. Her 5- and 8-year-old children are “constantly searching for Herky statues” while she’s driving them around the area.

“We hope to take pictures of as many of them as we can,” she writes. “Thanks for such an awesome tribute to our favorite mascot!!!! GO HAWKS!”

by Amy Schoon

 

 

Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright the University of Iowa 2003. All rights reserved.
   

 

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