03/30/10 12:38 AM ET
Phillie Phanatic statues revealed
Tourists, fans to find Phanatics all over the city
By Deb Rinaldi / Special to MLB.com
Twenty Phillie Phanatic statues took center stage at the Please Touch Museum on Monday, as the Phillies and Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation unveiled the "Phanatic Around Town" public art program during the kickoff event to the team's Paint the Town Red Week.
Nearly 1,600 fans were in attendance -- and it was a photo frenzy.
"Fans who already love the Phillie Phanatic will see him in a brand new way," said Frank Luzi, the museum's public relations director. "There's something different to each one."
Each of the six-foot, 100-pound statues were painted by local artists who were selected by the Phillies for their vision of the team's mascot. From "Phrankenstein" to "Ben Phranklin" to even the "Mad Hatter" and an astronaut, the artists covered the gamut of possibilities.
And as it turns out, to create a Phanatic masterpiece is quite an undertaking. Some artists spent more than 150 hours painting their statue, making sure they got it right. That's a lot of time spent with a fiberglass figure with tail feathers.
But the artists agreed: It was well-worth it.
"It is so great to see all this excitement," said Lilliana DiDovic, who worked with co-artist Ronnie Norpel on the "Philanatic" Phanatic, which will be on display at the National Constitution Center.
Tom McLaughlin shared the same sentiment, although he will miss seeing the statue in his living room.
"At night, the unpainted statue was very ghostlike. It could be pretty startling," chuckled Thomas, who painted a Negro League "Tribute" statue, soon-to-be on exhibit at the African American Museum.
Most of the Phanatics will be available for photographs at the Please Touch Museum through Tuesday, before they head to their final destinations at local attractions throughout Center City. Tourists and fans alike can take photos of them throughout the summer. Later, the statues will be auctioned off to benefit Phillies Charities.
The team also has several events planned around the Phanatics.
Among them: a "Go Phillies" pep rally sponsored by Citizens Bank outside the branch on 15th and Market Street on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET, and a Community Paint Day on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET at the Independence Visitors Center, where fans can take photos of a statue in progress. Special appearances include the newly-dyed red Phillie Phanatic, broadcaster Scott Franzke and the Phillies Ballgirls.
"Thanks to our partner GPTMC, as well as the local art community and various city attractions, fans have another great reason to tour the city of Philadelphia," said David Buck, senior vice president of marketing and advertising sales. "We can't wait to see photos of fans in their travels of 'Phanatic Around Town.'"
To help track the statues down, a photo gallery and Phanatic map location can soon be found at www.phillies.com/phanaticaroundtown.
Deb Rinaldi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.