Gathering under the portico at the White House on Sherman Ave. to prepare the MudgyMobile for its first outing on Nov. 23 were volunteers, left to right, Art Flagan, City Council Member Deanna Goodlander, Bill Goings, sculptor Terry Lee, children’s author Susan Nipp, Nancy Flagan, Paisley Goings, and Ronda Westcott.Coeur d’Alene characters Mudgy and Millie are familiar faces in the community since children’s author Susan Nipp published her book in 2008 to benefit the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.
Just as the five life-size bronze statues created by sculptor Terry Lee along the Mudgy Trail have become fixtures in the community, the moose and mouse characters have become popular features in local parades. Until the most recent Coeur d’Alene Christmas Parade, Library Foundation volunteers would scramble to create a float on a flatbed trailer or to secure the loan a convertible for the pair for parade appearances.
“It was labor-intensive to start from scratch each time and the floats didn’t have a consistent look,” commented Ruth Pratt, Library Foundation Executive Director. “It also made it more difficult to do appearances in other communities.”
A number of concepts were considered, but the design eventually centered on pickup with the bed covered with a canopy that could be lowered for travel and raised for use during parades and other events.
Numerous businesses and Coeur d’Alene residents contributed to make the MudgyMobile a community project.
► A 1994 Ford pickup was secured from the Tom Addis Automotive Group. (Although the idea of finding an older antique pickup was considered, it was decided that ease of maintenance and having a vehicle that could be driven to nearby communities without needing a trailer made a newer model more practical.)
► Mike Mires, Dean of the Professional/Technical College at NIC, arranged to for the college’s auto tech group to construct the frame for the canopy.
► The wrap, based on pictures from the book, was designed by Nipp and Aaron Barton from Ink Drop Signs which then completed the wrap.
► The canvas canopy itself was made by Jerry Holmes of Mariner’s Canvas.
► Knudtsen Chevrolet painted the purple bed liner and hub caps.
► Electrician Sandy Sanderson installed lighting and the sound system. He and sibling Dr. Mary Sanderson are currently housing the vehicle – that stands 10 feet, 5 inches high – in their Garage Town storage unit.
► Storage space during the work on the float was also provided by Clean Water.
► Jeff Anderson and Steve Wheeler at Great Floors contributed carpet squares for the truck bed.
► Sculptor Terry Lee put on his carpenter’s hat to build a storage bench in the bed.
Executive Assistant Kelly Lattin and volunteer Hadley Long are Mudgy and
Millie’s constant companions when the characters are making an appearance.
“The MudgyMobile is like the library itself: it took the support and imagination of a diverse group of people to become a reality,” said Pratt. “It’s something the whole community can enjoy and be proud of.”
The MudgyMobile made its first public appearance during the parade on Nov. 23. A group gathered under the portico at the White House to decorate the truck with Christmas lights and iron out a few last-minute bugs in the electrical system.
It was led in the parade by a group of students from the Sorensen Magnet School for the Arts carrying a banner recognizing the Coeur d’Alene Public Library as Idaho’s Library of the Year for 2012.