PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - Palo Alto's newest goodwill ambassador will make his official debut this weekend.
The hope is that the stuffed animal donkey will become a conversation starter - that he'll draw attention to places and events that people love in Palo Alto and get people to reflect about their city.
"People will stop me and say, ‘is that Palo Alto Perry?'" says Ali Williams, a city special events coordinator and the donkey's "handler."
This Perry is a model of the real one, who along with his partner Niner, lives near Bol Park in Palo Alto.
Live donkeys have apparently been there since the 1930s, and have been known to stroll the neighborhood from time to time. So when the city manager held a contest about inspiring love for Palo Alto, this was the winning project.
"We tried to come up with an idea that was really unusual and of course the donkeys came into it. And the idea of having the donkey as an ambassador going around town," says Williams.
People will sign up for a chance to wrangle the stuffed version of Perry and take him on adventures.
So far, he's met the real Perry, hung out with the Mayor, and sat on a fire truck.
"He's already hooked up to have a police ride-along, which I really want to be in the backseat when he pulls somebody over," says Williams.
And there are plans for him to draw attention to important issues.
"I think it would be great if Palo Alto Perry tagged along on some of our home water and energy efficiency surveys we provide," says Catherine Elvert with the City of Palo Alto Utilities.
The hope is people will take pictures with Perry and leave notes behind in his bags about what they like best about Palo Alto.
"In these saddle bags we hope to capture the hopes, aspirations and wishes of each community. We expect them to be very diverse just like the city is," says John Williams, who is also on the committee that came up with the donkey idea.
Although he doesn't make his official debut until Saturday, Perry is already getting lots of attention.
"I read all about him online and I just walked by and saw him in person. So I was excited to meet him," says resident Nick Hall.
"It just seems like a lot of people are just jumping in and getting into the spirit of what he's here for. It's to bring us together," says Ali Williams.
Perry will be making the rounds starting with the parade May 2nd and ending with the chili cook-off on July 4th. Afterward, the notes he collects will be presented to the city council and Perry will get a proclamation for all his hard work.
Palo Alto residents interested in hosting Palo Alto Perry can look him up on Facebook, Twitter or on his website cityofpaloatlo.org/perry. You can also email him at email@example.com.