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DENVER -- Nothing says "Welcome to Denver!" like staring down the face of a demon horse and its glowing red eyes. How many other cities can brag about having something like that?
True, St. Louis has its famous Gateway Arch. New York has the Statue of Liberty. But here in the Mile High City, we have a 32-foot blue horse officially known as "Mustang."
"He's super weird," said Kayleigh Warrick, a visitor from Columbus.
"It's like, amazing," said Prince Thomas. "You just see that Bronco out there and know you're in Broncos Country."
Maybe so. But how did this 9,000-pound, electric blue mustang with glowing red eyes end up on Pena Boulevard?
Some say he's way too demonic. Some say he's as cool as the Big Blue Bear in downtown Denver. Others maintain he's a waste of taxpayer money. Many question if he's art. Other questions: It is cursed? Is it here to stay? Is it the work of an undercover Raiders fan?
Before answering any of those questions, some background: In 1993, the sculpture was commissioned as a public art project for DIA. A panel selected sculptor Luis Jimenez.
"He's got work in the Met (and) in the Smithsonian," said DIA spokesperson Emily Williams.
Williams said Jimenez created the Mustang to capture Denver's pioneering spirit. But what's with those Damien eyes?
"The artist fashioned those as a tribute to his father who owned a neon shop in Mexico," said Williams.
The eyes are actually LED, but any further insight is shrouded in mystery. Jimenez had a major problem with deadlines. As the steed neared completion in 2006, 13 years late and now at a cost of $650,000, tragedy struck. A large chunk of the mustang broke loose and crushed the artist to death.
"Because of this tragic accident, some people believe Mustang might be cursed. He has locally the name 'Blucifer,'" Williams said.
Blucifer was finally installed two years later to almost universal scorn. A Facebook group formed calling for his removal.
Warrick said she still doesn't understand the need for the sculpture.
"Every time we we come out here, its eyes glow red. It's really really creepy," she said.
Others, like Deb Lundberg, are more forgiving.
"The red eyes are kind of an eye catcher," she said.
Remember, Denver is also home to interesting art like the Big Blue Bear. But somehow, this horse looked like a bizarre version of our beloved Broncos mascot.
Denver7 posted a video on its Facebook page asking for your opinion on Blucifer.
Jesses Lynch commented, "He can ride off into the sunset. Creeps my girls out every time we drive past him." Jon commented, "I'm torn. He's awesome, but scary."
Some had a problem with Blucifer's price tag, which is a common complaint. In reality, Blucifer was funded by the airport's enterprise fund, and not taxpayer dollars.
Another issue: Is Blucifer art? Ginger White, with Denver Parks and Venues, said beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
"I love that we're bold enough to put something out there not everyone loves, and I think that says a lot about who we are," she said.
Meanwhile, time has healed old wounds. The city says after a decade, calls to remove Mustang have virtually disappeared. He's earned his place among other quirky Denver landmarks.
So, what's next for the blue stallion? Love him or hate him, it appears he's here to stay.
And like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, this demonic charger looms over our fair city, even winning over skeptics like Warrick. Sort of.
"Even though I do think it's creepy, I think now when I come to Denver, I expect to see it. So there's that," she said.