Eye-catching moose statue in memory of man who 'loved to see people happy'

The statue of a moose at the side of Topsail Road has been turning the heads of plenty of drivers in the year or so it's been up, but what people may not know is the story behind it.

"This moose is in memory of my father," said Brandon Smith, standing next to the big bronze statue his father, Brad Smith, had ordered before his death.

Smith said his dad had been in Arizona undergoing cancer treatment at a facility where there were four or five similar bronze animal sculptures, and he took a liking to them.

When he texted his son that he was thinking of ordering one from overseas, it wasn't much of a surprise.

Gavin Simms/CBC

"He said, 'I think I'm gonna get one for the lawn at work,'" Smith recalled with a laugh, standing in front of the colourful building of S&S Supply and Crosstown Rentals in Mount Pearl, where the statue stands.

"[I didn't know] whether to take him seriously or not, you know? He was pretty unpredictable."

Sure enough, Smith said his dad ordered the moose statue from overseas.

'Made the grieving process easier'

But sadly, Brad Smith died just two weeks before it arrived.

"It was an emotional time for me, I gotta be quite honest with ya, because … just that my dad never got to witness it. He would have had so much fun with it," Smith told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

Last year, people slung bras over the statue's antlers as part of a fundraiser to support people living with breast cancer.

Submitted by Brandon Smith

While Smith said he's sad his father isn't around to enjoy what's sure to be a long legacy of playfulness with the moose statue, putting it up and tending it is a way for his family to heal.

"It definitely made the grieving process easier because you can take the bad and turn it into a good, and remember my father for truly who he was," Smith said.

"He wouldn't want to be remembered as [he was in] the last few months, quite honestly. He'd want to be remembered as the person he was."

And just who was that person?

Come enjoy it, take some pictures with your family, whatever you want to do. - Brandon Smith

"A very loving, caring, fun person. He just loved to see people happy, smiling, scratching their heads — that's just the type he was," Smith said, adding that his father definitely reached that goal, if the public response to the statue is any indication.

"People have scratched their heads many times at this moose and we've had many happy people come up and hop on it, take pictures. It's for the community to enjoy — that's the reason he got it."

But the moose is so realistic-looking that Smith said a few people have voiced traffic concerns, especially since it's so close to a busy roadway.

Submitted

"We've heard that a couple times so far, hence the reason we got the light there, because we want people to be safe, too. We don't want to cause any issues," he said.

"I think it's finally coming around that most people, the majority of people, know that it's not real and I think most people really like it."

One day at a time

This summer, Smith will be getting a memorial plaque welded to the statue's base, explaining the moose's background, and highlighting the mark his father left on his community.

While his father isn't around anymore, he's there in spirit, Smith said.

"In the winter time we've got a sleigh, I built a sleigh we put behind it, lit up. We just do things to try to do what my dad would have done," Smith said.

Gavin Simms/CBC

"That's the way I try to live the day: what would my dad would have done?"

And while the statue isn't the real thing, Smith said everyone's welcome to come visit.

"We're at 1281 Topsail Road. Come enjoy it, take some pictures with your family, whatever you want to do. That's what it's there for," Smith said.

"It looks very lifelike, and who knows, maybe one day we'll put a bear or something behind it."

Submitted by Brandon Smith

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