MUNSTER — Giant 4-foot, 50-pound owls are set to populate the Region by the dozens later this summer.
Humane Indiana is asking businesses, schools and individuals across Northwest Indiana to sponsor giant owl statues for a public art project called “Owl You Need is Love” that will benefit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Valparaiso.
Pat Popa, chairwoman of the Owl Public Art Project, has been involved in getting the giant duck statues in Highland and massive decorative bulldogs across Crown Point. Popa hopes to see 50 decorative owls perched throughout Northwest Indiana by the project's end.
"This project is awesome because it brings two groups of people who are passionate together — people who are passionate about art and people who are passionate about animals,” Popa said. “And it's all for a good cause.”
The project will not only raise funds for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, but also raise awareness, Popa said.
The rehabilitation center in Valparaiso is a haven for an array of woodland creatures, feathered and furry. Some animals are released back in the wild, while those who cannot be fully rehabilitated become ambassador animals, cared for by the staff and showcased for educational events.
“We have a bald eagle we are rehabilitating. We've had some smaller owls, a great horned owl and snowy owl,” Popa said. “Right now we have an ambassador opossum who loves cuddles. We've had skunks and red-tailed hawks. Just about everything you could think of.”
Local artists were invited to work their creative magic on the hefty fiberglass statues, following the vision of the owls' sponsors. The Times of Northwest Indiana will have a Harry Potter owl and Our Lady of Grace School in Highland will have a “knight owl” in honor of their medieval, armored mascot.
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“We're really excited for the big reveal, when all of them are dispersed,” Popa said. “They're all blank canvases. It's exciting to see what each artist will do with them.”
Schools are also invited to get involved and will be able to keep the owl they sponsor and will get a special wildlife education presentation.
Starting Aug. 1, the owls will be displayed at the sponsors' chosen locations until Nov. 1. Sponsors will be able to purchase the owls and unsold owls will be auctioned off in mid-November, Popa said.
“It's also a unique way to advertise businesses,” Popa said. “There will be a map of all of the owls' locations so people can take a Saturday to visit them all and take pictures.”
Applications to participate should be turned in by mid-June for businesses and schools will have an extended deadline to be decided. Those interested in sponsoring an owl or learning more can contact Humane Indiana's Lisa Carpenter at 219-513-8911, ext. 106, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week
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CROWN POINT — A 17-year-old Crown Point boy was in critical condition after he was rear-ended while on a motorcycle Tuesday night by the driver of a pickup truck on U.S. 231, police said.
VALPARAISO — Tension ran high in Porter Superior Court as families and friends of two dead teens came face to face with the Valparaiso man accused of murdering them and burning their bodies.
HAMMOND — A Missouri man was arrested Sunday afternoon on drug and fraud-related charges after police stopped him for weaving along Interstate 94.
LAKE COUNTY — Checkpoints will be set up this week starting Thursday in Lake County targeting impaired drivers.
PORTAGE — The Porter County coroner's office is investigating the death of a 24-year-old Portage man found unresponsive at his home early Wednesday.
CROWN POINT — A Gary mother could avoid prison time if a judge accepts her guilty plea to a neglect charge alleging she left her children unattended in a room with crack cocaine and a gun just before her 2-year-old daughter was fatally shot.
MERRILLVILLE — A Crown Point man has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to driving drunk in a crash that killed a 62-year-old man.
GARY — Lake County Assessor Jerome Prince pulled off an upset victory Tuesday night, dethroning Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
PORTAGE — A 35-year-old Portage man rolled his car three times along a local stretch of U.S. 20 Friday night and then got out and attempted to hide a bag of marijuana by burying it in a nearby drainage ditch, police said.
CROWN POINT —Charges filed Saturday allege a Chicago man shot his girlfriend in the chest last week in East Chicago during an argument that began over spilled wine.
WEST CREEK TOWNSHIP — A man reported missing in April was found dead Sunday not far from his home, officials said.
GARY — A woman sprayed a man with a mace-like substance as he sat next to his 5-year-old after the man cut her in line at a gas station, police say.
VALPARAISO — A former assistant diving coach at Portage High School faces a four-year prison term after pleading guilty Tuesday to having sex with two female students and possessing partially-nude photographs of each girl when he was 18 and 19.
GRIFFITH — The Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at a Griffith residence, officials confirmed.
Crown Point's many antique stores draw buses full of shoppers from far and wide, but some of their options on the courthouse square are fading away into nostalgic memories.
PORTAGE — Police responded to three drug overdoses, two which were fatal, in less than 24 hours, the Portage police chief said.
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — A woman was sleeping on a couch in her family room early Friday when the window above her shattered by what turned out to be a paintball, according to Porter County police.
GARY — The Lake County Coroner is working to determine the cause and manner of death of a Gary man that died Saturday evening.
HAMMOND — A man found dead Tuesday inside a fenced area at a business has been identified as a city resident, according to the Lake County coroner's office.
EAST CHICAGO — A dog owner is asking for the public’s help in bringing home her bully mix puppy after it was allegedly lured with treats and stolen from her backyard.
MERRILLVILLE — A missing man believed to be in danger has been found by family, police say.
MERRILLVILLE — First responders worked to extricate a driver from a car-versus-semi-trailer crash Thursday night, police said.
The Lee County Sheriff's Department in Florida arrested a Hobart man identified in April by Hobart Police as the suspect in an attempted armed robbery at Foremost Liquors.
HAMMOND — A Region man's home invasion scheme was thwarted by police, court records say.
HAMMOND — Police asked for tips about a hit-and-run driver who caused a crash Saturday that injured two people.