Dems bringing painted donkeys to town for convention

Former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell, chair of the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention, touches the Pennsylvania donkey.

Get a kick out of this: 57 painted fiberglass donkeys are coming to town.

The Democratic National Convention's host committee announced Tuesday that the painted donkeys - representing the 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and Democrats abroad - will be scattered across Center City to drum up excitement for the convention and draw tourists to different parts of town.

"It did come out of my fertile and overactive mind, but it had some rational basis," said former Gov. Ed Rendell, chair of the host committee, at a news conference announcing the donkeys.

"I thought, what a great idea to have 'Donkeys Around Town.' [We] want this to be a great convention for the Democratic Party and its nominee, but we also want to make it a great convention for the people of Philadelphia."

The DNC is partnering with the Mural Arts Program and ArtJawn.com to find 30 local artists for the project. Roe Fabricators, a Chester company, will make all the life-size, 250-pound official Democratic donkeys, using a patented mold.

The convention runs from July 25 to 28 but the donkeys will be on display from July 1 through Sept. 5. The rollout will include a social media campaign and a scavenger hunt to get residents and delegates traveling around to find all 57 donkeys.

Once their job here is done, the donkeys will be given to delegations that want to take them home or auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the artists.

The statues will be attached to fixed steel bases that can be bolted to the ground. Locations accepting donkeys have agreed to provide some security.

While the donkeys can withstand human weight, they are not to be mounted, organizers said. There will be a "donkey doctor" available in case of repair needs.

The host committee is seeking input from each delegation on what images should grace their home state's animal.

Pennsylvania's donkey, with designs selected by the state's first lady, Frances Wolf, is painted with the Liberty Bell, an Amish buggy, and the state flower and flag.

On Tuesday, Rendell led a round of "hee-haws" to applaud the people working on the project. He asked a few state trivia questions, and then Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Marcel L. Groen attempted to explain why the Democrats picked the donkey as a symbol.

"I think the donkey represents stability. The donkey is not flashy. The donkey happens to be a very down-to-earth animal, dependable," Groen said.

Locations for the donkeys will include the top of Liberty Place, Independence Beer Garden, the Betsy Ross House, the Art Museum, the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and 30th Street Station. A full list is available at ArtJawn.com.

jterruso@phillynews.com

215-854-5506 @juliaterruso