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Video: Mules parade through Glendale as part of aqueduct's 100th anniversary

November 11, 2013
  • A group of 100 mules walk on Western Avenue in Glendale. They have walked for the last 25 days along the L.A. Aqueduct, a trek that ended at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.
A group of 100 mules walk on Western Avenue in Glendale.… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Jeff Lawson ran out the door Monday morning with his coffee cup in hand to see 100 mules take their final leg of a 240-mile journey.

Lawson was sleeping when his friend came knocking on his door at 7:45 a.m. with unusual news — there were mules stationed at nearby Brand Park. The graphic designer thought his friend was joking at first, but then ran up the street to catch a glimpse of the mass of four-legged creatures.

PHOTOS: 100 mules walk through Glendale for 100th anniversary of the California Aqueduct  

“If you're like me and you're fascinated by the desert and western history, then this is for you,” the Glendale resident said. “There's a romanticism about it, I guess.”

Artist Lauren Bon and Los Angeles-based Metabolic Studio are behind what they call an “artist's action” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the animals that helped build it. The aqueduct brings water from the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles.

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More than 250 people gathered in Brand Park to see the mules, each wearing blue-and-white signs that said “100” across the sides of their bodies and American flags that were attached in between the signs and appeared to sprout out of the mules’ backs. Some mules carried plants and small solar panels.

The last leg of the trip, which began in Lone Pine, Calif. last month, stretched from Brand Park to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. Rolling street closures blocked traffic as the mules plodded along, led by riders in cowboy hats. Spectators clapped and waved at the procession.

Peter Rusch, assistant director at the Doctor's House Museum in Brand Park, said he saw the mules and their handlers camping up in the hills above the museum Sunday night and was most surprised to see the animals that carried small satellites and solar panels on their backs.

“They didn't allow us to get too close, but I did sneak a little pet,” Rusch said.

Pat Duffy of Sherman Oaks had also seen the mules before. He and a friend drove about 120 miles to take pictures of them crisscrossing an area known as Jawbone Canyon, where the aqueduct abuts a switchback trail.

“It was just an adventure,” said Duffy, who played “When the Saints Go Marching In” on a tin whistle before the mules began their descent along the Glendale trail.

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