Now that the roundabout is up and running, a group of volunteers calling themselves the Payson Gateway Project is trying to raise money so they can turn the island in the center into the northern gateway to Payson.
Their plan is to put a larger-than-life brass elk atop a rock outcropping, with native landscaping and the Payson town logo inside the traffic circle. A mighty fine idea, most would agree.
But in these high-tech times, I think we can do better. I think we should borrow a page from the Disney folks and install an animated elk in the Roundabout -- a walking, talking, singing, dancing, cursing elk.
During non-peak hours (like nights and winter), the elk would utilize pre-recorded messages to provide vital information to motorists and to just hassle them for the heck of it -- especially the ones from California and the Valley. I'm seeing a Bullwinkle-type voice bellowing out a new message every 30 seconds.
A cycle of messages might start innocently enough ...
"Payson -- home of the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo -- says, ‘Howdy, pardner.'"
But then add more attitude as they go...
"Welcome to Payson. The current temperature is 82 degrees and the time is 20 years ago."
"Payson welcomes you, and reminds you that we are not responsible for any damage to your car caused by potholes."
"Welcome to Payson -- the town that never showers."
"Your attention please: walking your dogs in the Rim country's forests can be dangerous -- make that fatal -- to your health."
"Please be advised that cars have entered this roundabout and never been seen again."
"Hey, you! Yeah, you! Nobody's allowed to enter this town unless you're wearing an ugly green, yellow and white Payson Concrete & Materials ball cap?"
"Don't even think about drinking any water while you're here."
"Check your clubs at the town limits. Here in Payson, golf is a four-letter word."
"Welcome to Payson, where even the elk spit and scratch." (Animated elk then lays a loogie on approaching car's windshield.)
"What are you looking at? Keep those eyes on the road."
"The town of Payson requires that all dogs be leashed and muzzled. But we really love dogs. Really."
"Warning: eating elk meat can raise your cholesterol."
"No, you can't have a drink of water. And you can't use the bathroom, either."
"Hey, if you had to spend half your life running away from human-caused forest fires, you'd be surly too."
During peak hours and on busy summer weekends, our animated elk would be operated remotely by a guy in a nearby tree with a Mr. Microphone and binoculars. His messages can then be customized to match driving patterns and other observations:
"Slow down, you idiot!"
"Where'd you get your driver's license -- in a cereal box?"
"Yield, you moron. Haven't you ever seen a roundabout before?"
"Same to you, buddy."
"I couldn't help but notice your California license plate. Now just turn around real slow and get on out of here and nobody gets hurt."
"My God, that's the biggest motor home I've ever seen."
"Real cowboys don't drive SUVs."
"Hey, baby. Have you ever gone out with an elk before?"
"And what part of Y-I-E-L-D don't you understand?"
"It's only fair to warn you that we don't take kindly to men wearing sandals in this town."
[Seriously, the Payson Gateway Project needs your support to complete the northern gateway to town, including a non-talking, bronze elk. Checks made out to Payson Gateway Project should be mailed to P.O. Box 1525, Payson, AZ 85547. Contributions are tax deductible. For more information, call (928) 474-6610.]