“People pull off the highway all the time to ask about the moose,” said Kelly Bonds.
The moose is a 10-foot-tall metal sculpture that stands sentry at the entrance to Holly Acres Garden Center and Nursery, located several miles east of Elizabeth just off State Highway 86.
“One day just before Christmas a few years back, this guy pulled in with this huge metal moose in the back of his truck and asked me if he could consign it for sale with us,” explained Bonds, who together with her husband Jim has owned and operated the garden center for the past 10 years.
The guy in the truck, Elizabeth resident Mike Lawrence, told Bonds he would like $21,600 for the moose.
Bonds said it took a “skid” to get the sculpture, which Lawrence estimates weighs about 800 pounds, from the truck bed to its current perch in front of her business.
“That thing is definitely heavy,” Bonds said. “There's no danger of the wind blowing it over.”
Lawrence and his son Matt built the moose from chrome car bumpers, welding them together piece by piece onto a one-inch, internal rebar skeleton.
On March 4, when Bonds posed for a snapshot in front of the statue, the moose was sporting a light dusting of snow and a hint of rust around its seams.
“My wife has an affinity for moose,” explained Lawrence. “So Matt and I modeled it after the biggest recorded moose ever found up in Alaska. Supposedly, that animal stood nearly 10 feet high and was about nine feet long.”
Mike and Matt Lawrence created the sculpture about five years ago and it's been migrating east over the years. “We had it for sale for a while at places in Sedalia and Franktown and it's also spent some time in our yard,” said Lawrence.
The father-son team took the project on as a way to improve their welding skills. “It's the only thing like that we've ever made,” Lawrence said. “We've never given it a name. We just call it `the moose.'”
Several months after the metal moose took up its current residency outside Holly Acres, Bonds said another truck pulled into her driveway one day, this one with “a huge metal elephant in the truck's bed.”
“It was a different guy,” Bonds said. “I don't think he was from around here. His elephant was as big — or maybe even a little bigger — than the moose.”
Bonds said the man asked some questions about the moose, including how much it was for sale for. “And then he asked if I wanted to buy his elephant,” she added.
Bonds passed on the offer, saying one massive metal animal in front of her store “was enough.”
In business for 10 years, Holly Acres is both a wholesale and retail nursery and carries everything from annuals and perennials to big trees and a large selection of distinctive lawn statuary made exclusively for the nursery by a company in Georgia.
After displaying the moose for more than a year now, Bonds said she is in no hurry to see it go. “It's a real eye-catcher,” she said.