Luke Taylor: Why are there cartoon characters in the lake?

May 5—Why are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck canoeing in Kaufman Lake?

The characters enjoying the summer out at Kaufman Lake aren't a hallucination.

They're the handiwork of Champaign Park District horticulture specialist Tom Albers.

Albers said that when he started working for the park district 17 years ago, they had a tradition of putting a floating flower garden in the lake each summer.

However, the wick system used to water those flowers had a habit of bringing too much or too little liquid to the roots.

Around 10 years ago, the district decided to stop trying to make it work, and that's when Albers was tasked with finding something new.

He took a canoe the district had and turned it into a floating decoration, anchored so it won't wander about the lake.

"I just started doing black silhouettes of characters and then evolved from there," he said. "I get free range."

Well, almost.

Albers likes painting cartoons he grew up with, "but last year I did Shrek and Donkey. I was told I needed to modernize a little bit," he said.

Previous years have seen some trouble with the canoe capsizing, but after Albers "had to do a little studying on that," he feels it will be secure for the season.