It is nearing Halloween and The Colonel and I are participating in a few programs for the county's history center. I am portraying a spirit who tells of hauntings in the area. The Colonel is a Cryptozoologist (a pseudo-scientist who searches for creatures that have not been proven to exist due to lack of evidence).
The Colonel tells the program attendees about some of the creatures on his list such as the Skunk Ape (Florida's Big Foot). But his main focus is on the Moss Man.
Florida's first Moss Man sighting was in 1978 in a Boca Raton park called Red Reef Park. A couple were taking a romantic stroll on the beach near the park. They spied a skinny, ragged creature with bright colored eyes. It was covered in a grassy, leaf-like substance.
The Moss Man was seen for a couple of years, especially when slow rolling fog came in from the ocean. In 1980, the creature began appearing again. There were at least eleven sightings. The 1990s saw a few more glimpses of the Moss Man.
Tales speak of a Moss Man curse...in the 1500s Spanish Conquistadors invaded the Florida region. One of the men kidnapped a Native American princess. He was a terrible man. He raped her, decapitated her and then tied her head to a tree.
The legend continues to claim that the princess' hair took root in the tree and her spirit infected all plant life in the area. A medicine man created the Moss Man from the vegetation to wreak havoc upon the Spanish and their descendants to drive them away.
It is said that the Moss Man is around six to seven feet tall and can weigh anywhere from 200 to 450 pounds. That's a lot of Spanish Moss!
Well, if The Colonel was a Cryptozoologist focusing mainly on the Moss Man, we had to create one to unveil for the program attendees (the first program was for a group of kids...not a one was afraid of our Moss Man).
The Colonel ordered the PVC pipe kit that would become the Moss Man's skeletal system. He pieced it together and attached it to a base of wood. He then ordered some monster hands (they came all the way from China). We hit Hobby Lobby and found the perfect foam head. Once The Colonel painted the head gray I painted the facial detail.
We visited a local cemetery to gather Spanish Moss. There was plenty on the ground in the older section of the cemetery.
Now came the time to attach the moss to the Moss Man. We had a bit of chicken wire left over from our ghost manufacturing and used it to fashion a chest, back and shoulders.
Now came the time to artfully attach the Spanish Moss to our man. The Colonel let me have the lead in this. He said I have a better artist's eye.
As we were building our Moss Man we were conscious of the fact that we would have to transport him to two local libraries for our historical programming. We ended up deciding that wrapping him up in an old sheet and then tying the sheet down with rope would be the best way to go. We would then use our hand truck to wheel him to the bed of the truck and secure him in the bed with more rope. It did work as planned but we sure got some strange looks from people as we wheeled the suspiciously humanoid-form, draped in a sheet into the library...especially since it was packed with early voters.
The Colonel wants to put the Moss Man on our front porch for Halloween after the programs are over. I think the Moss Man will go nicely with our ghost and pole-dancing skeleton already in the yard.