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Miles for Mules places life-size mules around town

By Michelle Sartor
On October 16, 2003

Until it was recently destroyed by vandalism, students at the College could appreciate the multicolored mule outside Seegers Union. This colorful mule was not a mere decoration, nor was it an expression of school spirit for the College's mascot. Rather, it was part of the on-going Miles for Mules project that is taking place throughout the Lehigh Valley area.The project's purpose is to highlight the historical importance of mules in the development of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor in Eastern Pennsylvania. The project also seeks to raise money for various cultural organizations in the area. Similar art projects have enacted in other areas, highlighting various animals that have affected the regions. The first project of this kind sprung up several years ago in Zurich, Switzerland, where decorated cows were put on display.

Three years ago, bulls decorated New York City, two years ago bears were seen throughout Berlin, and recently donkeys and elephants were highlighted in Washington, D.C.

There are over 150 of the life-sized mules made of fiberglass on display through the Miles for Mules project. People are encouraged to go see the mules through a variety of events scheduled in the Lehigh Valley. The project includes mules that are decorated to represent the region in which they are located.

Dr. Jadviga da Costa Nunes of the Art department said that in front of the Wilkes-Barre County Court House, there is a mule made with chips of anthracite coal, a substance that is prevalent in the area.

According to Elizabeth Buechler, Administrative Assistant for the Art department, da Costa Nunes and Michael Bruckner, Assistant Director of Public Relations, the Miles for Mules project is a worthwhile endeavor for the Art Association and the College since the mule is the College's mascot. Therefore, the Art department, along with several other departments, helped purchase the mule that was on display.

The Art Association was responsible for the decoration of the Mule. According to Buechler, the spring season was their inspiration for the very colorful mule. She said, "They [students] wanted to celebrate the ebullience of spring and more importantly, their impending graduation... hence, the bright, riotous patchwork pattern."

Buechler said that the individual or individuals responsible for the vandalism that destroyed the mule have not come forward.

Buchler said, "It is truly disappointing, considering the caliber of students admitted to this college. This is not only an attack on artistic expression by mindless vandals but a total disregard for the property of others." She also said that the project will not be repeated in the foreseeable future. In addition to the vandalism of the mule on campus, another mule was destroyed in Bethlehem.

A book about the Miles for Mules project will be available at the National Canal Museum Store in Easton, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Wegmans supermarkets, the Michener Museum, the Banana Factory and Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre.

The project is still going on in the Lehigh Valley with various mules on display at a number of locations. In November, the mules will be auctioned off, and the proceeds going to the organizations that constructed them and to nonprofit groups.

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