Harford mom takes cold cash, rejecting giant dairy delight

May 05, 2007|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

Kim Karas was torn, really.

The Harford County resident faced the choice yesterday between $18,750 or a 2-ton fiberglass cow that easily would be the neighborhood's biggest lawn ornament.

Maybe it seemed like a no-brainer. But her children - Steven, 10, and Daphne, 7 - were lobbying her hard to take the 13-foot-high, 25-foot-long piece of oversized kitsch.

"Mom, take the cow, please," Steven said. "It would be neat in the backyard. I would scrub it once a week to keep it clean."

At the least, the family could choose the cow and see how much it would fetch in today's community yard sale, Steven said. Or maybe it would be worth big bucks on eBay, he argued.

"How would we ship it?" his mother wondered, incredulous that she was even having such a conversation.

The cow, transported to the Forest Hill home from Pennsylvania on the back of a truck, was the grand prize in a contest marking Turkey Hill Dairy's 75th anniversary.

In the sunshine of a perfect spring day, two dozen neighbors gathered in front of the Karas home and passing motorists slowed to a near stop for a glimpse of the cow.

All that was left was for Karas to choose between it and the cash.

The swing set and patio furniture would have to go. And there was the neighborhood association to consider.

"I don't think the homeowners' association will allow it," said next-door neighbor Donna Garrett. "All the kids might have a blast with that thing, but the neighbors would have issues."

The yearlong promotion was intended to highlight the company's Lancaster County heritage. The packaging of Turkey Hill ice cream products carried stickers that customers could redeem for a chance to win prizes including a year's worth of whoopie pies to a live Holstein, worth $1,200. The top prize was the choice of the fiberglass cow or an oversized check.

Built in 2000 by a Wisconsin fiberglass company, the cow is one of three that Turkey Hill takes on the road to promote its products. It's a real eye-catcher at parades, county fairs and amusement parks, said Dana Huber, spokeswoman for the Conestoga, Pa.-based company.

"It gets stares, waves, honking and lots of moos as we travel, especially on the interstates," she said.

Karas almost threw away her chance at the prize. She didn't recall entering the contest and thought the letter notifying her that she had won was a scam. For weeks, she ignored the letter and phone calls from the company.

Eventually her husband, Peter, studied the paperwork and deemed the reward authentic.

All of which led to yesterday, and Karas' moment.

"It has been a difficult decision and I have agonized over it: I am taking the cash," she said.

She grabbed the replica check and posed for the company's photographer, surrounded by applauding neighbors.

But Daphne, pulling at the check, broke into tears.

"I am sad," she cried. "I want the cow."

Steven sat nearby, looking glum.

The children's reaction took Karas by surprise.

"In time, you will come to appreciate my choice," she said.

Before the truck left for the hourlong drive back to Pennsylvania, even Steven had begun to come around to his mother's way of thinking.

"That [prize] could be my college scholarship," he said.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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