The six-ton mock-up of an Idaho potato toured around Manhattan Wednesday on a barge as part of a promotion by the Idaho Potato Commission.
It was escorted by its chaperones — Larry Bathe, Adam Branstetter and Ellis Nanney, all of Boise, Idaho — who rode alongside the barge on jet skis. Collectively, they are known as the “Spud Studs,” Bathe, 47, said.
“Riding the jet skis, and seeing the truck I’ve been driving around the country going up the Hudson, that was phenomenal,” said Bathe, who drives the vehicle that the potato is mounted on. “People love it. They want to know how we grew it and got it out of the ground. It’s an eye-catcher.”
The big potato, which is made of fiberglass, concrete and steel and is mounted on a 72-foot-long flatbed truck, has been touring the country since 2012, and this is its fifth circuit of the nation, according to the commission.
Bathe drove the truck from Connecticut through New Jersey, Staten Island, and then to Red Hook, where it went on the barge.
The potato came here because New Yorkers consume more potatoes than residents of any other state, commission spokeswoman Sue Kennedy said.
The tour kicked off this year’s six-week potato harvest. The commission also donated 12,000 pounds of potatoes to the Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen in Chelsea.
If real, the potato would take 10,000 years to grow and would make 1.5 million french fries, according to the commission.
On Friday, the potato will reappear at Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J., and then in West Point, N.Y.