BATAVIA – Melba, a cow statue made of an oil tank and a milk can, had been hanging out in Mike and Kelly McCormick’s backyard in Batavia for about two months.
People kept stopping to admire the cow and its latest outfits.
Also known as the Route 25 Cow, Melba started getting so much attention that the McCormicks decided it needed a spot in their front yard at 818 Washington Ave. in Batavia, which is where it has stood for almost a year.
“We wheeled it out front, and we were watching to see if people would notice,” Kelly McCormick said. “They would honk and wave at it. It was just fun.”
Melba’s lifelike size and seasonal fashions might be the reasons it has gotten so much attention.
The McCormicks don’t let a holiday pass without giving Melba a makeover. For Christmas, Melba donned strands of red and white lights.
Around St. Patrick’s Day, it was transformed into a green “lepre-cow,” complete with a rainbow and pot of gold (made of gold-colored milk jugs).
Around Easter, it became “Peter Cow-ton Tail” and sported a pair of giant rabbit ears. She even threw on a Cubs hat to celebrate opening day of the MLB season.
Melba has cheered on the Bulls, and most recently, the Blackhawks.
“The cow’s part of the house now,” Mike McCormick said. “It’s kind of funny because it’s kind of brought the community together.”
The McCormicks, who have lived in their Batavia home since 2000, said they now know neighbors they never met before.
Kelly McCormick said Melba is just a “feel-good” sight along Route 25 that has brightened many commutes through Batavia.
Melba was named for the McCormicks’ neighbor, Melba Johnson, who lived with her husband, Guy, in Batavia for 32 years.
As they were getting ready to move to Arkansas, the Johnsons decided to get rid of an oil tank they’d had in their basement, and Kelly McCormick offered to take it off their hands.
Mike McCormick said it took a while for him to warm up to the idea. But once the cow had come together, it became a creative outlet for him.
“It’s a riot,” Melba Johnson said. “It’s pretty great with all the people enjoying it.”
And it appears people have been enjoying Melba’s presence along Route 25.
Drivers often stop to take photos, and children like to pet the cow. Others have donated costumes for it to wear.
Melba has received fan mail from anonymous admirers, as well.
One letter writer wrote, “Thank you for brightening up the drive along Route 25.”
“We started getting letters and cards from people saying how much they love it and that it makes their day,” Kelly McCormick said.
Melba also has been part of a group’s scavenger hunt, and a local day care center recently approached the McCormicks about taking a field trip to visit the cow.
Melba has its own Facebook page, which has more than 500 “likes,” a testament to its growing popularity.
Mike McCormick thinks part of Melba’s appeal is that people don’t expect to see a large cow statue in the western suburbs.
“I think it’s the fun factor,” Kelly McCormick said.