When Gene Kirschbaum and Mickale Carter moved into a house on Park Street in March 2010, they didn't expect that a little over a year later, they would have a local attraction on their front yard.
Now, after 17 months, the beaver carving on their front lawn has had quite a few costume changes and become a must-see attraction.
"It's a little embarrassing, because it's such a childish thing," Kirschbaum said. "People sometimes leave little notes in our mailbox or send postcards saying, ‘We love your beaver.'"
The carving was a large blue spruce tree when the couple moved in. However, the tree was so large it was causing trouble with the roof.
After having the tree cut down, the couple contacted a chainsaw carver, and had what was left of the tree trunk carved into a beaver on a podium.
Then Kirschbaum did all of the staining and preserving of the carving.
Carter said it was around Halloween when they first decided to dress up the beaver. They had a rubber cone head, so they put it on the beaver.
"I don't even remember why we decided to start costuming him," she said. "Park Avenue is apparently a place where a lot of joggers go . . . and we would see them stop and get out their little phone cameras and take a picture of the beaver. We're very child-like and as soon as we got the least bit of positive reinforcement, we're like, ‘Okay, we need to think about what we should do next.'"
Since the cone head, costume themes have varied based on everything from holidays to current events to the whimsy of the costumers.
"There's a gender identity crisis going on with this beaver," Kirschbaum said. "Some days we've got a Julius Beaver. We had a Viking beaver. Then some days it's a female."
He said sometimes they have help from neighboring children and nephews.
Sometimes the costumes are obvious, like the Packer's fan costume the beaver wore when the team played in the Super Bowl.
"I don't think it's necessarily proven fact that the beaver helped the Packers win the Super Bowl," Kirschbaum said.
"I think he did," Carter added. "It didn't hurt."
Other costumes have included Super Beaver, Darth Beaver, President Beaverham Lincoln, O'Beaver for St. Patrick's Day, Beaver Blues Brothers and, most recently, Thoroughly Modern Beaver.
"He'll have something military looking for 9/11," Carter said. "He had rabbit ears on Easter, and a basket and a little tail. Typically we only dress him up on Sunday. If there's a special holiday, we'll dress him up. July 4th, we'll dress him up like a statue."
Carter said many of the costumes come from thrift stores or from pieces they have around the house.
After the positive comments flowed in from the first costume, the pair decided to see what else they could do.
"Now it's become a disease," Kirschbaum joked. "Our friends say they drive by every day to see what it's going to be. If they're going to be driving by, then we've got to dress him up. Sometimes we make up a little story. I think to justify our childish behavior so our friends won't think we're crazy. I think also it's a good outlet for us."
The beaver and podium are close to 10 feet off the ground. Kirschbaum said usually they just lean a ladder against the trunk to costume the beaver. However, some costumes are more difficult than others.
"For Lake Days, he had a Lake Days shirt on and he was pretending like he was a Lake Beaver," Carter said. "We just pinned little gloves on so that it looked like hands holding the bars for the skis. We had to figure out how to connect [the ski] to her and then it was connected into the ground. That was probably the most complicated of them."
They each have their favorite costumes.
"Our next door neighbor likes cone head the best," Kirschbaum said. "There was a Blues Beaver. He was a pretty slick guy. I have to go with Lief Beaverson. He looked good as a Viking, I thought."
Carter said her favorite was the Valentine 's Day beaver. Carter said one of her friends called her on Valentine's Day and said that she had been grumpy. However, when the woman turned the corner and saw the beaver with the rose in his mouth, it made her laugh.
"If we're going to cheer people up, if we can make somebody smile, if one person goes around the corner and they look at the beaver and smile, that's a good thing," Carter said. "We don't take it that seriously. People have sent mail to us saying thank you. We have noticed that there seem to be two age groups that really, really like it. There's the really young and the really old."
They said there are a few costumes that they would like to put the beaver in. One of their favorite ideas is to find a beaver head during Beaver Dam's homecoming and dress the beaver up as a beaver.
Other ideas include giving him antlers and having a Beaverlope. They said they're also ready to make him into Beaver Holmes for the Sherlock Holmes movie opening night. Past that, they are open to any ideas that occur.
"He's not very tall and he's very fat," Carter said. "When we get clothes for him, it's very hard. He's a tubbo."
Kirschbaum said someday he would like to look into finding another carved beaver for a short time.
"Someday I'd like to get a date for him," he said. "When he's a little older. He's only one year old."
"He's not quite ready to date," Carter added.