It’s a long way up and a long way down for a team of workers turning a water tower in Silvis into a giant golf ball. Their canvas, 150 feet in the air.
“The only thing that freaks us out is the wind. If we’re up here in 40 mile per hour winds, that’s when it gets a little sketchy,” said Ken Brend, owner of Jetco out of Chicago.
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The firm was hired by the city to paint the 400 thousand gallon water tower. Brend and company on Wednesday were busy sketching the “dimples” of the golf ball design by hand, suspended in mid air from scaffolding dangling from the newly bright white tower with a green base to look like a tee.
“We had to figure out all the ratios and proportions, first we pencil everything on, and then we paint over,” said Brend. “It’s 75-percent math, 25-percent art. If you’re not doing the math right, it’s not going to look right,” he said.
A rainy spring delayed the project by at least a month. Brend is hoping to have half of the design done in time for the John Deere Classic PGA golf tournament coming to town next week.
“We’re at the complete mercy of the weather. Our goal is to get the side that’s most visible done with the logo on there, the word Silvis, so at least the Blimp has something to look at,” he said, referring to the network coverage of the event on Saturday and Sunday.
Silvis Alderman Matt Carter fought for the extra money required to add the golf ball design to the project.
“The John Deere Classic is going to be viewed by 50 million people in over 30 countries. You can’t buy that kind of advertisement,” Carter said.
Even with the water tower only half finished by tournament time.
“They will probably be working while the Blimp is going overhead. Safety is number one for us. We don’t want to see anyone hurt. We want the job done right. So we’ll wait. It will be done for next year,” Carter said.
Jetco is the same company which painted the water tower in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which read “Save Ferris”. The firm also painted the rose on the tower in Rosement, Illinois.
“You find out right away who can hack it and who can’t. People come up to us and say I want a job. They get three rings up the ladder, and say this isn’t for me,” Brend said.