Small crowd greets Babe the Blue Ox

RUMFORD — Three-year-old Samuel Demascio of Rumford brimmed with excitement early Thursday afternoon, as did about 20 other people who greeted Babe the Blue Ox's arrival on upper Congress Street.

dslover/Sun Journal

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal


Babe the Blue Ox is delivered to his grazing spot on the Rite-Aid Pharmacy lot in downtown Rumford on Thursday.

dslover/Sun Journal

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal


Babe the Blue Ox passes the Paul Bunyan replica as the 6-foot-tall, 10-foot-long fiberglass bovine arrives in downtown Rumford on Thursday afternoon. Bunyan welcomes visitors to the information center on Route 2.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal
Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger drills a bolt hole through the base of Babe the Blue Ox and a cement pad while anchoring Paul Bunyan's mythical companion on Thursday on upper Congress Street. Watching from right is Rumford Public Works crewman Richie Philbrick, who is also a Mexico selectman.

While Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger and a Public Works crew installed the nearly 400-pound fiberglass bovine on a cement pad on the Rite-Aid Pharmacy lot, Demascio shouted instructions to his dad, David Demascio.

"I want to take a picture of you on the Blue Ox," Samuel twice repeated, while held in dad's arms.

That's what Jim Rinaldo of the Economic Development Committee is hoping tourists will want to do beside — not astride — Babe.

Signs created by local artists will soon be erected at the Rumford Information Center's Paul Bunyan statue steering people into the downtown area to visit Babe, and, hopefully, businesses. An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people visit the information center annually.

By noon Thursday, the center lot was full of people driving cars with out-of-state plates, who stopped to photograph Bunyan, fall foliage, and the Androscoggin River's Pennacook Falls behind the center.

"I think it will be good for the town," Belanger said while drilling holes into the cement through Babe's four hoof bases to bolt the 6-foot-tall by 10-foot-long bovine into place. "I really believe it's going to bring people in," he said.

In August, selectmen voted 3-1 to take $6,500 from the town's economic development fund to buy Babe from Mike Hurley's Fiberglas Farm of Belfast. Hurley said Thursday that one of his sculptors, Ray Paulin, created Babe in Berlin, N. H., because it was closer to Rumford than Belfast. It took five to six weeks to build Babe.

On Thursday, Hurley was to stop at the Information Center at noon to let Babe "get acquainted" with Bunyan and possibly catch a police escort to the Rite-Aid site. However, because Hurley was late and no one knew how long it would take the town crew to offload and install Babe, Hurley bypassed the center where people were waiting and drove straight to the site.

"We didn't want the town crew to have to work overtime, because their department closes at 2," Rinaldo said.

Using a bucket loader, straps and chains, the crew lifted Babe off the trailer, and set it down facing Rite-Aid on the cement, which was donated by Coleman Concrete of Bethel. Then, after Belanger drilled holes through the bovine's base, five men lifted Babe and turned him around to face down Congress Street.

"This is guaranteed for 10 years?" Belanger asked Hurley, who answered affirmatively.

David Demascio said his son likes the large blue ox and wanted to see it arrive. "This was a good event and it will be good for the town to try to help," David Demascio said. "Anything will be good if it can help."

"He looks great," Hurley said of Babe.

Linda Walbridge, director of the Western Maine Economic Development Council with Community Concepts, agreed. "I think he's beautiful," she said to Hurley.

She then credited Rinaldo and town officials for following through on Rinaldo's creative idea to spur economic activity in Rumford. "I think that anything that can be done in Rumford is a positive thing," Walbridge said. "I've heard people laughing about this, but if this can get people across the (Androscoggin River) bridge, I'm very excited about it. It's a creative first start," she added.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

JANET MAGOON's picture

I am at a loss for words!

I am at a loss for words! HAHAHA! Glad I don't go to Riteaid or anywhere else in that area for anything! I feel bad for all of you people that have to drive by there every day and have to see that monstrosity! And the poor people that work there..........!

Audrey Alcala's picture

To Former.......have you

To Former.......have you been back to the area lately? Not sure what they think the blue ox is going to draw business to on the island since most places have shut down. Spending almost $7000 on this statue was crazy. Yes, it does cost money to make money...but let's be realistic....this was a stupid way to spend money. Since you no longer live in Maine nor live in the town and pay the outrageous Rumford taxes...you have no right to sit there and call them a bunch of whiners.

Audrey Alcala's picture

To Former.......have you

To Former.......have you been back to the area lately? Not sure what they think the blue ox is going to draw business to on the island since most places have shut down. Spending almost $7000 on this statue was crazy. Yes, it does cost money to make money...but let's be realistic....this was a stupid way to spend money. Since you no longer live in Maine nor live in the town and pay the outrageous Rumford taxes...you have no right to sit there and call them a bunch of whiners.

Erin Cox's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Tira Cottrell's picture

What a bunch of Whiney A$$

What a bunch of Whiney A$$ babies you guys are! The board is trying to find ways to bring people to the island to make money! You have to spend money to make money! As for you Chippy, by putting it in front of the school, how would that bring money to the island businesses? D Wilson, do you smoke or drink? Ever thought of giving those up? You would save money there and maybe get healthy and not need the medications. Maybe try WALKING to Rite Aid to get your prescriptions? You might even look into taking some classes so your spelling and grammar can improve?

 's picture

Kind of a ridiculous looking

Kind of a ridiculous looking creature. A lot will depend on the color, the pictures have it in several different hues of blue.

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