By THERESA WINSLOW
The Capital of Annapolis via Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The rumors are udderly false.
Whoever decorates the cows in front of the Maryland Department of Agriculture building in Annapolis can keep doing it.
There was some confusion after snowman costumes were removed from the two concrete bovines in January. The sheets covering them were blowing around and the department received complaints from drivers worried they would fly into oncoming traffic on Harry S.Truman Parkway.
But that didn't mean costuming was off-limits, said agriculture department spokesman Julie Oberg. The creative outfits are meant to be seen and herd.
The cows currently sport sparkly necklaces, possibly for St. Patrick's Day. In the past, the cows have been clad in red, white and blue for Independence Day, sported Santa outfits for Christmas, caps and gowns for graduation day, ribbons and hearts for Valentine's Day, or have even impersonated cicadas.
"People call or write us a note," said executive associate Gloria Chambers. "It puts a smile on their face."
She remembered one man who was so smitten with the costumed cows he stopped on the side of the road to take a picture.
Neither agriculture officials nor neighbors know the identity of the decorator -- ala Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore grave -- or they're not saying.
At the nearby county Department of Recreation & Parks, the statue of a boy and girl holding a soccer ball is also decorated sporadically, the last time for a Ravens playoff run. But it was never a whodunit. Staff handled the costuming.
Whatever the case at the agriculture building, the efforts are appreciated.
In some ways, it provides the department with an identity. When people find out where Sally Terry, another executive associate, works, they immediately identify it as "the place where you dress up the cows."
Seeing the outfits brightens the day for both workers and passersby. For the residents of nearby Heritage Harbour, it makes the daily drive a moo-ving experience.
"We get a laugh every time we go by," said Percy Sussex, vice president of the community association.
His favorites are the July 4th and Christmas costumes.
"I love them, my wife loves them and my kids love them," said Jim Quinn, secretary of the association.
The cows, along with a statue of the Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter, have been around since 1987.
One cow, Elmer, sits at the entrance to the agriculture department's headquarters and the other, Elsie, at the exit. (The mystery decorators provided the names). Demeter is directly opposite the front door of the building and can't be seen from the road, which could be the reason she's gone essentially un-costumed.
The only time Demeter dressed up was in the 1990s when department employees decorated both the cows and the goddess for St. Patrick's Day. Demeter was a leprechaun.
This was the genesis of the costuming, and it went on for a few years until cost got in the way. When it stopped in the 2000s, the mystery men (or women) took over.
"It's a surprise when we drive to the building each day," Oberg said. "Easter's just around the corner, so let's wait and see."
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.