Inflated ape.

Hot Air Rant: Why We Hate Inflatable Statues

Drive down any state highway today and one thing is clear -- the age of concrete and steel monuments has passed. This is the era of the knockoff, throwaway inflatable. Titanic balloon tomatoes wobble atop produce stands. Giant gorillas sway from gas stations.

These hot-air humbuggeries have blossomed like bad neon in recent years, heralds of a nation obsessed with immediate return and fearful of being caught unadaptable. "We want to boost earnings this quarter," the logic goes. "If that big ape doesn't work, we can get rid of it quick."


Dala Horse
Mora, Minnesota's Dala Horse: a serious civic commitment.

Roadside America deplores this candy-ass lack of entrepreneurial backbone. Where, we wonder, will the bet-hedging end? With inflatable water towers and civil war monuments? Inflatable tanks in our courthouse squares? Perhaps we can fill them with colorful balls and turn them into PlayZones for our kids? Well, wouldn't that be safe and inoffensive!

If you're going to put up a giant strawberry or cow along the highway, show that your commitment is worthy of its size. Build it out of two tons of concrete! Make something that'll require dynamite to take down and a thousand bucks to haul away!

When you can open a valve and make a giant chicken disappear, you might as well let the air out of America's rugged individualism, too.

Keeping the inflatable inflated.Note: While we don't want to encourage more towns and businesses to fall into the easy inflatable trap, there's a new set of inflatable products that simulate buildings and even famous ships. We'd be intigued by an inflatable motel, or even an entire town manufactured overnight from inflatables.

March 30, 2015

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