It started with herds of wildly decorated fiberglass cattle in Zurich and Cows on Parade in Chicago. They made people grin, bring their friends, look for more. Now cows of unexpected hues and patterns graze in Manhattan, 6-foot hares prepare to leap in Saginaw, Mich., 5-foot-high fantastic fish swim in New Orleans, and moose stalk the streets of Toronto and Whitefish, Mont. Norfolk, Va., has a medley of mermaids. Six-foot ears of corn decorate Bloomington, Ill. St. Paul has its own take on the theme: 51 dancing, 5-foot-tall Snoopys, celebrating “the joy of being Snoopy” and honoring the late Charles Schulz, a native son. Three to four dozen similar projects are supposed to take place this summer in North America, said Nathan Mason, curator of special projects for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs. And that, he emphasizes, is “by no means definitive.” Chicago is even planning a new exhibit for next year, but officials won’t give out any details. “It looks like it’s on a growth curve and not likely to slow down,” says Jack Becker, editor of Public Arts Review, based in St. Paul. “If Chicago can reinvent itself and come up with something even more inventive, I’d say we’re up for a decade of things on parade.” Norfolk’s mermaids are $2,000, including a $350 honorarium for the artist. Chicago’s cows started at $3,500, with $1,000 going to the artist. New Orleans’ fish are $3,000, with $1,000 to the artist.
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