There was a time when the crocus served as the official harbinger of spring. Not anymore.
A brazen invasive species has usurped the violet flower's role in forecasting the coming vernal equinox. This blueish-green creature emerges in mid-January and plants itself outside strip malls and along busy roadways. For four months it flaps and flutters about on the pavement, inhaling exhaust and sopping up snowmelt, until April 15 (always April 15) when it disappears as quickly and unceremoniously as it arrived.
It is, of course, the patriotic mascot of Liberty Tax Service. In just fifteen years the tax-preparation business based out of Virginia has grown to more than 4,000 locations across the United States. In metro St. Louis the company has some three dozen franchises, and outside nearly every one of these offices a man (occasionally a woman) dressed like Lady Liberty can be found waving or dancing for the attention of passing motorists.
But what makes these mascots tick? Is their job as fun as it sometimes seems or as horrible as it often looks? And what -- besides car honks -- do they get out of their occupation?
All photos by Kristan Lieb for the Riverfront Times.
Name: Antione Miller Location: Manchester Road, Rock Hill
How long have you been doing this? It's my first year.
What's your favorite part of the job? I like the honks.
What do you do to get people to honk? I dance and try to connect with the person in the car. Smiles are contagious.
What do you do when you're not out here? I take care of my daughter.
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