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Taking the chill off Santa Rosa's stone-cold statues

  • Artist Judy Kennedy, right, is assisted by Rebecca Valentine and Cheryl Itamura, in placing a knit hat on the Dolhareubang statue in Santa Rosa, on Sunday, January 13, 2013. The statues were a gift from Santa Rosa's sister city, the Korean island of Jeju, ten years ago.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Two stone-cold elders of downtown Santa Rosa will be a bit warmer this month, despite the shivering temperatures.

The 8-foot-tall "Stone Grandfathers" statue in Sonoma Avenue's Rae Park were given cozy winter hats Sunday by a neighbor who decided it was "too darn cold" even for stone statues.

"This tucks under that rim," said Judy Kennedy, who was directing friends on ladders in the late afternoon shade as they tucked the 18- by 6-inch stone ears into her hats' ushanka-style flaps.

The "Stone Grandfathers" have wry smiles, hands on their bellies and are believed to ward off evil spirits. City officials in Santa Rosa's South Korea sister city, Bukjeju, gave the hand-cut basalt figures to the city in 2003.

"Oh, he looks so nice and cozy," said restaurateur Don Taylor, president of the Santa Rosa Sister City Committee, as he stood back to admire the work.

Kennedy said she was inspired to crochet the hats by other "yarn bombing" artists who covered a charging bull statue on New York City's Wall Street and light posts in Santa Rosa's Rail Road Square.

"I just wanted to brighten up this dark corner," she said of the strip park across from City Hall. "And it's freezing cold."

With about 10 skeins of acrylic yarn and two weeks, Kennedy crocheted two hats with flaps to cover the grandfather's ears. She got the city parks and recreation department's blessing to keep them up for two weeks.

"I love these guys, but nobody notices them," Kennedy said.

In South Korean, Dolhareubang statues like these are placed near village entrances and boundaries. They're believed to ward off evil spirits.

Taylor said he will take the hats to South Korea later this year.


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