The donkey is the Democratic Party's political animal, and come this July, Philadelphia residents and visitors will see nearly 60 unique donkeys scattered throughout Center City, river to river.
A brainchild of Gov. Ed Rendell, the 250-pound fiberglass donkeys will be placed throughout the city as part of the Donkeys Around Town program, which was announced Tuesday at Franklin Square. (See photo gallery for the Pennsylvania donkey.)
Donkeys Around Town will feature 57 fiberglass donkeys throughout the city.
The program — similar to Philadelphia's Phanatic Around Town that featured 20 Phanatic statues around the region and London's Easter Egg hunt featuring 200 fiberglass eggs — will feature 57 fiberglass donkeys, representing 50 states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., and Democrats Abroad.
The donkeys will be placed throughout the city in sites like the Independence Beer Garden, the Betsy Ross House, One Liberty Observation Deck, and The Porch at 30th Street Station, Rendell said.
The donkeys will be on display from July 1 through Sept. 5. Afterward, each delegation will be given the chance to take the corresponding donkey home.
The remaining donkeys will be sold through a public auction by ArtJawn.com. Bids will start at a minimum of $500. The funds will be pooled and split evenly among the participating artists.
Specifics for the cost of each donkey were not given, but Rendell said the whole program will cost under $200,000. PHLDNC is paying for Donkeys Around Town; it's not city funded.
Phanatic Around Town raised about $251,000 for Phillies Charities through an online auction by the Phillies.
A number of DNC events taking place will not be open to the public, so Donkeys Around Town will hopefully make attendees and residents feel as though they are part of the convention, Rendell explained. The program is also a way to encourage attendees to the four-day convention to explore the city, he added
To encourage participation, thee will be a scavenger hunt for residents and visitors through a mobile app that lets users accumulate points for prizes. The prizes have yet to be revealed.
PHLDNC partnered with the Mural Arts Program and ArtJawn.com in choosing 30 local artists to paint the 57 donkeys. They were chosen out of a pool of 150 artists — diverse in age and the stage of his or her career — and will be given a $1,000 stipend for their participation and work.
The fiberglass donkeys were created by Roe Fabricators of Chester, Pa.
Philadelphia participated in a similar program back in 2000 during the Republic National Convention. That time, states were asked to design a Liberty Bell made out materials indigenous to each state, Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, said Thursday.
"This was done in Philadelphia in 1876, and some of those bells are still at the Smithsonian," she said. "Perhaps some of these donkeys will be. You never know."
The Liberty Bells were displayed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Levitz said.