BELFAST, Maine — Belfast entrepreneur Mike Hurley recently helped bring a giant bobblehead of Wally the Green Monster, the official mascot of the Boston Red Sox, to Fenway Park.
Along the way he got a refresher course in the power of Red Sox Nation. As Hurley turned east onto the Mass Pike on Easter weekend with the fiberglass figure securely strapped to a trailer pulled behind his pickup truck, other drivers knew exactly what they were looking at — even though Wally’s head was detached for safekeeping.
“People were honking like crazy,” he said. “You felt like the conquering hero, returning home.”
Hurley, well-known around Belfast as a longtime city councilor and co-owner of the Colonial Theatre, owns several other small businesses, including Fiberglass Farm. That business came about after Belfast started holding its Bear Fest in the early 2000s, a street art festival that featured painted fiberglass bears. It was successful, and Hurley began to get phone calls from officials in other cities saying that they wanted to do it, too.
“The fiberglass industry had not adjusted to this demand for 50 things at a time,” he said.
So Hurley found fiberglass artists who could make the bears, cats, dogs, cows, horses, ducks, eggs, dinosaurs, birds and other desired shapes. Through Fiberglass Farm, he takes orders and delivers finished products to communities and organizations. He said he has sold “literally tens of thousands” of the creations over the years.
“It just doesn’t end,” he said. “The Bear Fest really did open that door for me.”
It opened another door, too. Over the years, Hurley has been getting phone calls from people who want something more unique to put on display at their stadiums and other places. Among those he’s responsible for are the world’s largest longhorn steer for the University of Texas in Austin and a big bobblehead figure of Tommy Lasorda for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
“Over the years, I’ve basically developed a network of artists and shops I work with around the country that have the ability to do this sort of thing,” Hurley said.
A few years ago, he got a call from someone looking to place five giant bobblehead figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“Ballfields are really into making things family-friendly, so that you bring the kids,” Hurley said. “When I used to go to Yankee Stadium as a kid, it was very basic. It was concrete. Now you go to these things and they’re like amusement parks. The ‘fan experience’ is really important.”
Earlier this year, he got a call that thrilled him. The Red Sox wanted a 6-foot-9-inch Wally bobblehead for their new Kids Concourse.
“I was very excited to be getting a call from Fenway,” Hurley said.
Earlier this month, Wally was ready to be picked up — all 1,500 pounds of him. Hurley drove 3,000 miles to pick him up from the designer in the Midwest, and brought him to Fenway on Easter Sunday. There, he met his friend and fellow baseball fan Rick Cronin of Belfast, who helped him install the figure.
“It went perfectly,” Hurley said. “Go see Wally. He’s under left center field at Lansdowne Street. You can’t miss it.”