Advertising on Morris banned

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The days of advertising on Morris the horse in downtown Tryon are officially over following the town mascot being rebuilt last year.

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, March 19 and approved, by a 3-2 vote, banning advertising on Morris. Council members directed staff to work on other means of advertising near the statue for local events.

The vote was a tie with mayor pro-tem Roy Miller and councilman Doug Arbogast voting in favor of banning advertising on Morris and councilmen George Baker and Wim Woody voting against the ban. Mayor Alan Peoples broke the tie in favor of disallowing advertising.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Interim town manager Joey Davis said the planning board looked at proposals for advertising on Morris last week. One option discussed was to allow organizations to hang advertising on Morris if they first received a permit from town hall and hung signs over a protective covering on the statue. Proposed regulations were that advertising could not be secured with screws or nails.

Initially, Arbogast said he liked the saddle blanket idea. He said it could be handled like test driving a car; if someone damaged Morris they would have to pay for the damage.

Tryon resident John Gargiulo said it was the consensus of a group of Tryon citizens that signage cheapens the whole intent of Morris. He said a few years ago he went to the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club (former Morris owner) about giving Morris to the town and when it was discussed they talked about there being no signage on Morris and to build a directory next to Morris to be used for events.

“I’m totally against signage on Morris,” Gargiulo said.

He added that anything, including tape, placed on Morris would cause damage and if the town wants to have it for 20 or 30 years it should never have anything on it.

Baker said he personally doesn’t have a problem with people putting things on Morris.

“That’s what Morris is there for,” Baker said, “to gain attention.”

Woody also said he doesn’t have a problem as long as the signage fits (the protective covering).

Tryon business owner Kim Nelson asked council if Morris was handcrafted and if it is original?

“Is there another like it?” Nelson asked. “My opinion is that it’s artwork and I don’t think it should be covered.”

The town will later discuss other options, such as placing a kiosk near Morris for advertising events.

The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club donated Morris to the town in 2011. Tryon then appointed a committee for fundraising to repair the statue, which was completed last October.

The original Morris was designed by Eleanor Vance as a giant version of one of the most popular toys made by the Tryon Toy-Makers and Wood-Carvers, which was owned by Vance and Charlotte Yale. Morris the statue was built for the TR&HC in 1928. The original Morris was destroyed in a fire and four other statues based on Morris’ original design have been built since. Tryon residents gave the statue its name “Morris.”