If you see 10-foot-long crocodiles sunning themselves along the Fox River banks in Elgin this summer, feel free to sit on them.
The crocs are actually fiberglass and reinforced concrete benches that are part of this year's public outdoor art exhibit and competition in the city. It's called "What the Croc," a tie-in to the "SuperCroc" exhibit that will be on display from May through August at the Gail Borden Public Library.
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The exhibit from Chicago-based Project Exploration will feature 40-foot crocodiles that lived 110 million years ago.
"It was all about how to tie an outdoor art project with what the library is doing, because I think the library is the heart of the city," said Sigi Psimenos, board member for the Elgin Community Network, which is spearheading the initiative.
Residents, businesses, schools, churches and community groups have the option of buying either 2-foot croc "butler" statuettes for $195, or the croc benches for $1,195. The money covers purchase and delivery, and Elgin Community Network will absorb part of the cost, Psimenos said.
Each group can choose its own artist to paint the crocs, or ask ECN for artists' names, she said. All crocs must be finished by June 5.
The croc butlers will be displayed in front of homes and businesses; the croc benches will be displayed throughout Elgin where there is space and in front of the library along the Fox River, Psimenos said.
Special "passports" will be available so visitors can mark which crocs they checked out and enter drawings for prizes.
All the croc benches will brought to the Fox River in July so the public can vote for "the best-dressed croc."
Last year's art competition, which featured bistro sets, got more than 106,000 votes online and on paper, Psimenos said. "We do allow multiple voting, Chicago-style," she said.
At the end of the summer, the buyers can either keep the faux crocs or have them auctioned off, with all proceeds benefiting local neighborhood programs, Psimenos said.
The croc benches, which will hold at least three people, will be made of glass fiber with reinforced concrete, said Eric Maier, owner of Concrete Innovations in Plano. "We love the one-of-a-kind, crazy 'out there' things," he said.
This is the fifth edition of the event, which previously featured Adirondack thrones, rain barrels, bicycles and dinos.
The deadline for "What the Croc" applications is March 31. For more information, visit whatthecrocelgin.com or the What the Croc Facebook page, or contact Sigi Psimenos at email@example.com or (312) 953-8216.