ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — Take a drive down Highway 52 in Rochester and you’ll see him.
Dancing maniacally in the wind, his yellow hair whipping about, this smiling wind dancer is perched high above the Apache Mall water tower.
“The first question is – what is it for?” said Tony Benson from Rochester Public Utilities.
He may look funny, but this flailing, red man is serving a very serious purpose.
Rochester Public Utilities was having trouble with turkey vultures. More specifically, the waste the birds were leaving behind.
The wind dancers weren’t the first solution RPU thought of to deal with the messy problem.
First, they put up boom boxes and blasted very loud music from the top of the water towers to try to keep those birds away. It didn’t work.
Crews then tried inflatable Christmas decorations on top of the towers.
“Those were an issue because the turkey vultures would actually pop them,” said Benson.
Then, one RPU water operator had an idea just crazy enough to work.
Birds are afraid of motion, so why not try putting a wind dancer up? The birds were immediately scared away, and customers are saving lots of cash.
“You figure about a $100 to purchase (the wind dancers) and a little bit of electricity each month, as opposed to having a company come into town and clean the towers which could cost $3,000 to $4,000 each time they clean them,” said Benson.
The wind dancers have now been installed on multiple towers in the southern part of the city, preventing a big mess and putting a smile on people’s faces.
The wind dancers will come down in about a week. Crews will put them back up once the snow has melted in the spring.