CROWN POINT | The Seward Johnson sculptures are definitely getting noticed by people, especially the little old lady with her bags of groceries at the corner of Indiana Avenue and North Street.
Some people notice that it appears Queen Elizabeth has just done her shopping at the Family Express. One person didn't understand why the silly woman was wearing such a heavy coat. Others don't understand why she can't cross the road.
Public Works Director Scott Rediger said the department got a call from someone saying the woman wasn't moving, and others have called the city to say the crosswalk lights must not be working because she wasn't crossing the road. Rediger said he was behind a driver who kept trying to wave her on.
One city employee told colleagues she couldn't believe no one was helping the poor, bag-burdened woman get to her destination, so she parked her car and was about to go help when she realized it was one of the 12 sculptures stationed around the city, mostly in the downtown.
Councilwoman Carol Drasga, the person who organized the sculpture display and helped find sponsors to pay the cost of the three-month lease for them, said the museum in the Old Lake County Court House has seen the number of visitors more than double since the sculptures arrived July 1, and other businesses have reported increased traffic.
"This has way exceeded expectations," Drasga said.
The life-like, colored bronze figures were scheduled to leave Oct. 1, but Drasga said she got permission from the collection's curators to keep them here through the Octoberfest to be held Oct. 3. Meanwhile, the sculptures are a popular attraction for people taking "selfies" and for fooling the unwary and even some who know the sculptures are here.
Drasga said several people have told her they thought the man with the umbrella at Centier Bank is pointing at them, and Councilman Mark Schweitzer said he had to watch the window washer for several seconds before being sure it was just one of the sculptures. One man reportedly was seen giving the bikini-clad sunbather at Crown Brewing a foot massage.
It's gotten to the point that anyone seen sitting or standing very still for a few seconds can be mistaken for one of the sculptures. Drasga said the figure of the girl with the Hula Hoop on the courthouse lawn is very popular with kids. The project has been so successful, Drasga has had businesses contact her on how to get involved the next time.
Brochures showing locations of the sculptures are available at various businesses or can be downloaded from the city's website www.crownpoint.in.gov under the "Shop Local" prompt.
Next year, the city plans to lease one of the three-story-tall Johnson sculptures for the summer.