A cow-size fiberglass cow, named Maggie by the folks at T.G. Lee Dairy, sat atop the company’s building at 1675 State Road 472 for several years, casting a watchful eye over south DeLand.
But when Plant Engineer Jason Kempher applied to the City of DeLand to put a mural of grazing cows on the front of the building, Kempher was alerted to the fact that Maggie should not, in fact, be living on the roof.
Maggie was hastily removed, and it didn’t take long for people to notice.
“It seemed like instantly people were asking about the cow,” Kempher said.
Not just children, either. DeLand Planning Board member Buz Nesbit asked Kempher where the cow had gone and suggested it be donated to a city park.
“What happened to the cow? There was a cow out there on top of the building,” Nesbit asked, when the prospect of the cow mural was presented recently to the Planning Board. “People want the cow back.”
Amid laughter from other Planning Board members, City Attorney Darren Elkind assured board members city staff planned to find a suitable legal solution for the fiberglass bovine babe.
“We’re getting a meeting set up internally with staff, and we’re going to talk about cows,” he said.
Paperwork for the cow mural has been filed with the city, and its next step is to be heard before the newly formed DeLand Public Art Mural Committee at a near-future date that has not yet been decided.
The new Mural Committee’s first task, in other words, will be deciding whether the City of DeLand can have a cow. Or, actually, several cows, according to a sketch of the mural provided by T.G. Lee.
Once that’s out of the way, Kempher said, he plans to fight for the T.G. Lee cow to climb back onto the roof.
“I took it down because I don’t want there to be issues with the mural we’re requesting. I wasn’t aware that it shouldn’t be up there,” Kempher told The Beacon. “We thought ‘It’s a cow, great! Put it on the roof. People will love it.’”
In fact, the cow has a storied history, per Kempher.
Originally on duty at the Orlando T.G. Lee plant, Maggie was stowed away after she disappeared several times due to what Kempher believes were pranks by high-school students.
“It seemed like around high-school-graduation time, the seniors liked to steal it. They were never cruel to it, but it would end up in a pasture out there, maybe decorated,” he said. “Twenty years ago, we’d get a call saying, ‘The cow’s been located,’ and, hell, we never knew it was missing.”
For now, the focus is on the mural. City staff knows what the legal process is for putting a mural up but are less familiar with cows on roofs.
What’s it going to take to get Maggie back on the roof? Kempher is determined to get Maggie back home, but more work needs to be done to figure out just how that can be done.
City Attorney Elkind explained that the city staff needs to look deeper into the legality of a rooftop cow.
“I honestly don’t know what the regulations are for cows on buildings,” he said. “It’s not a common thing I deal with.”