A team of donkey doctors is on standby, Ed Rendell said Thursday, pointing to a sparkling, blue-and-green donkey bearing the painted label "COLORADO" in front of the Union League of Philadelphia.
The former governor wasn't kidding. The Colorado donkey is one of 57 fiberglass donkeys unveiled Thursday in honor of July's Democratic National Convention. And if the material breaks or if someone decides to deface a donkey, experts will be on hand to handle it.
The "Donkeys Around Town" installation is presented by the Mural Arts Program, the convention's host committee, and the arts group ArtJawn. Each sculpture represents a state or territory, with one for Democrats living abroad.
The donkeys were to be placed Thursday in 48 locations, also including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Franklin Square.
"We hope this will be a place where thousands of people can see this and become more civically and politically engaged," said Rendell, chairman of the host committee.
Caryn Kunkle, who heads ArtJawn, said 29 local artists were selected based on portfolios they submitted to a panel. Most were assigned at random to paint two donkeys.
Pennsylvania's donkey, painted by Amber Art & Design, is in front of the Doubletree Hotel, where the state's Democratic delegation stay. Its images were selected by Frances Wolf, wife of Gov. Wolf, and consist of state icons including Punxsutawney Phil, the Liberty Bell, and an Amish buggy.
Between July 21 and 28, the host committee will hold an online scavenger hunt in which contestants will try to locate each sculpture. Prizes include a package of Philadelphia sports tickets and a three-day getaway in the city.
The donkeys around the city will be under surveillance, said Anna Adams-Sarthou, a spokeswoman for the host committee. Sculptures will remain in their locations until Sept. 9, after which each delegation will have the option to take its donkey home.
"We really wanted the people of the city to get a real chance to see the donkeys first," Rendell said. "I think people are going to love them."