I was just reading an article in the Courant about our town’s ever-growing pile of mulch being stored at the UConn parking lot. If the downed trees weren’t headache enough, now we had to find a way to get rid of all the debris.
I also read about the millions of dollars that the town is forking over to clean up the mess, and this great pile seems to be a painful reminder of our tax money down the proverbial drain. As an optimist, or at least a contrarian, I'm looking for a silver lining to all of this. And then I got a text about it.
A friend was curious about The Great Mulch Pile of West Hartford. “Wouldn’t it make a great article,” he wondered. We’ll find out.
Hands down, the mulch pile is a sight to see. Before we know it, though, the pile will be gone. Instead of getting all gloomy, we should look at the positives. Perhaps the pile can be used for our benefit. That’s what Darwin, Minnesota does in advertising The Biggest Ball of Twine. People come from all over to stand next to the ball. Maybe we should look into claiming the biggest pile of mulch.
So why is West Hartford letting this potential roadside attraction go to waste? You don’t win accolades from Kiplinger’s and company by wasting opportunities. My mother always said, “If life gives you lemons, you need to capitalize on those lemons.” Granted she was on an Atlas Shrugged kick at the time.
To help out the powers that be, I’m offering five suggestions to capitalize on The Great Mulch Pile:
1. Mulch Sledding
Kids love sledding! Why not give them something fun to do in town before there's snow on the ground? We cancelled Halloween, so we kind of owe them one.
2. Name That Mulch Pile
Let’s get the townspeople to come up with a great name for our mulch pile. As a placeholder I’ve included The Great Mulch Pile of West Hartford, but that’s admittedly a safe and somewhat vanilla moniker. If we put our heads together, I’m sure we could come up with something catchier. We could give out a $50 Cheesecake Factory gift card for the winning entrant.
3. Mulch as Artwork
Why don’t we take a page from the well-known artist Cristo and utilize the mulch pile as a piece of art? Cristo’s whole shtick is that he gets people to view landscape in a different light by putting up temporary art installations. We have temporary art!
You may remember him from his orange flags throughout Central Park a few years back. Now he is working on draping the Arkansas River with a tapestry. All of this pales in comparison to what could be done with our mulch. Let’s get a hot new artist on the phone and get them to work on making a mulch masterpiece. If you doubt that a pile of mulch can considered artwork, check out Damien Hirst.
4. Gift Giveaway
Black Friday was huge this year. People were lining up outside of Toys R Us in Corbin’s Corner for hours before the midnight opening. Why not extend the spirit of Black Friday into, say, Mulch Monday? Say what you will about mass hysteria, but it’s a great way to stimulate a sluggish economy.
We could get a store like Toys R Us to hide a few of this year’s hottest toys within the pile and then let the crowd loose at a chosen time. A local radio station could be outside spinning tunes for the crowd. The event could be emceed by a regional celebrity like Scot Haney. It would be an Easter egg hunt for adults. Forget what I said about kids and Halloween; adults need more fun.
5. Sponsor That Mulch
It’s so hard to get noticed these days. Local businesses are paying money for ads in the hope that people see it and make an eventual purchase. Well, we know that people are staring at that mulch pile. Anything that draws in eyeballs usually has ads attached these days.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “How come that mulch pile isn’t sponsored yet?” Slap a sticker on it, insert a sign, and let’s get the Great Mulch Pile of West Hartford a domain name. Imagine watching NASCAR with non-decaled vehicles? The vehicles are a goldmine for advertisers, and so is our mulch pile. Time to cash in.