first winged monkey appeared in Burlington, Vermont in 1975,
sculpted into the roof line of an historic old building on the
corner of Bank and St. Paul Streets. The sculpture was
commissioned for a store called Emerald City of Oz. Emerald
City was a waterbed store and a politically motivated gift boutique.
This first creature was positioned so that he begged discovery,
crouched, ever vigilant, always on guard, and softly bathed
in green light. An icon was born.
mate emerged from the primordial soup behind a slate turret
on the south side of the same building. These two mythical creatures
were sculpted in steel by Steve Larrabee (1950 - 2011). For the better part
of ten years, they stood their post in downtown Burlington.
Businesses changed hands, addresses
changed and Burlington's winged monkeys, threatened by zealots,
flew south for a two year hiatus, mounted on giant rocks, deep
in the forest. Emerald City reopened in 1988 and the winged
monkeys landed on Shelburne Road, on the southern edge of town.It was here that tragedy struck. In September, 1992,
the original sentry was ripped from his post by thoughtless
and foolish hooligans.He was kidnapped and held against
his will in a mysterious cell, parts unknown. He was gone.
A pall fell across the land.
search was intense, but leads turned up empty, and the trail
grew cold. After 6 months, his replacement was conceived in
the workshop of sculptor Larrabee. A Crimestoppers
Tip in May of 1993 instigated an undercover stakeout
and the South Burlington Police Department caught the kidnappers in a botched transfer. After three days in a police locker,
the proud creature, battered and beaten, was returned to his
anxious guardians and his ever attentive mate. Literally days
after the homecoming, his replacement arrived. This glorious
new creature was sculpted in copper, wings back, in heat, baying
at the moon. Her little fingers grasped the edge of the gable
roof as she seized her haunt and screamed in silent delight.
She was a blue species, and now, with diversity, there were
In 1996 the original pair, flew
to the clock tower that was once Union Station and is now the
ever vibrant Main Street Landing.
The copper goddess with the silent scream landed on the edge of a wood, amidst a patch of
wild blackberries in the cities north end.
Once again, the better part of
a decade passed.
In the winter of 04/05 magic filled the air, and the guardians
of the clock tower were with child. Lo. In August, Mama monkey
delivered twins, a boy and a girl. The proud male, ever more
vigilant, seized a flag and regained his watch on the clock
tower of Main Street Landing. They built a nursery on the back
side of the station and sequestered the protective Mother with
There was great joy.
The blue goddess flew to the waters
edge and trumpets from the theatre on the lake.
Her clarion call, while but a
whisper to us, pierces the primeval veil and lures a rogue male,
blue too, what were the odds? From beyond the veil, he lands
on the cupula above the Theatre, where he lures his siren sweet.
Across the land.
For now,... as has been,... in
the dark of night, and in the blink of an eye, the flying monkeys of Burlington, Vermont soar over the mountains, glide over the lake
and serve as our mythical protectors.
For indeed they do. Fantasy is real.
Ask a child. Ask any child.
These creatures of the sky keep us