Herd this before? Cows on city streets

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NEW YORK -- Here's a cattle drive for which the city won't have to rope off any streets, although it's designed to attract herds of visitors.

Spurred by the success of a similar promotion in Chicago that ended its four-and-a-half-month run on Oct. 31, New York City's parks and streets will be invaded next summer by as many as 1,000 painted, life-size, fiberglass cows as part of a tourism promotion called CowParade.

The Chicago exhibit, branded Cows on Parade, included some 340 fiberglass cows that the city sold to businesses and individuals for $2,500 apiece and for up to $11,000 for a cow painted by a local artist commissioned by the city.

The Chicago exhibit attracted an additional 2 million visitors to the city, who spent $500 million on hotels, food and sightseeing, according to the Chicago Office of Tourism.

The New York exhibit is scheduled to run from June 15 through Labor Day and will include as many as 1,000 40-pound cows, each secured to a 580-pound concrete base.

The cows will be displayed in a variety of venues throughout the five boroughs, including the South Street Seaport, the Park Avenue Esplanade and city parks such as Central Park, Battery Park and Bryant Park.

The painted cow as a tourist attraction was first mounted two summers ago in Zurich, Switzerland, where a display of 800 cows was credited with increasing tourism by nearly 1 million visitors.

Chicago jumped on the cow bandwagon this past summer. "Since CowParade made its debut in Zurich and Chicago, it has caught on like wildfire," said Jerome Elbaum, president of West Hartford, Conn.-based CowParade Worldwide, which owns the rights to the cow exhibit.

Chicago's cows included "Chi-Cow-Go," a heifer sporting the Windy City's skyline on its body and the four red stars and two blue stripes of the city's flag on its face.

The New York Foundation for the Arts and other city arts groups will make open calls to New York artists to submit design proposals for the fiberglass cows. Submissions will be due in January. The proposals will be reviewed by a panel of arts, business and civic groups.

After the exhibit closes, a "cattle auction" will be held on Sept. 1, with a portion of the proceeds going to city charities and the Parks Foundation.

The New York Convention and Visitors Bureau said it is hopeful that the exhibit will boost tourism by as much as 3 million to 4 million visitors.

If, like in Chicago, the exhibit draws 2 million visitors, the city stands to make $1 billion from tourist spending, the bureau said.

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