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One-time horse attraction becomes holiday staple at Yukon Arts Centre

The wooden horse from the Yukon Arts Centre's Santa parade float will be rocking around for a while longer.

Rocking horse staying at the Yukon Arts Centre foyer for the holiday season

Rocking horse at the Yukon Arts Centre's lobby (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

People visiting the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) can expect to see more than traditional paintings and cultural artifacts during the holidays.

At the centre's foyer, there is an eight-foot wooden horse on a rocker.

The rocking horse — part of the YAC's float at this year's Whitehorse Winterval Santa Parade — travelled through many Whitehorse neighbourhoods at the back of the YAC's red pickup truck.

The Yukon Arts Centre float driving around Main Street, Whitehorse (Submitted by Mike Thomas)

"We wanted something to put on in the back of the truck," said Mike Thomas, the YAC's marketing coordinator.

Although the horse was meant to be a one-time attraction, it will now become a holiday staple at the centre, said Thomas.

Michel Gignac and Josh Lesage, the two artists and carvers, on top of the rocking horse moments before the Santa parade. (Submitted by Mike Thomas)

"This horse is actually usable and it is functionable. You wouldn't want to fall off from it, but you can get up and rock away; it holds the weight of two full grown adults so, it's a solid piece," he said.

And the horse is an art piece in itself.

Part-time YAC employee Michel Gignac, who wanted to bring the winter parade float to new creative levels, designed the horse. He built it with Josh Lesage, another artist and carver. 

The rocking masterpiece is a combination of softly sanded wood, paint, and repurposed old rope from the centre's stage curtain.

Michel Gignac, designer and creator of the rocking horse piece, works on the center's art installations. (Submitted by Mike Thomas)

Gignac and Lesage carved the horse using two-by-four wood pieces. The legs are glued and bolted to the body and the head, the third piece, is detachable so the sculpture can be transferred easily. The rocking part is also made from wood.

"It was hard to conceptualize how it was going to look like at first, but it is quite phenomenal," said Thomas.

He said it took the artists three weeks to complete the final product. 

Although a rocking horse might not immediately bring people's thoughts to Christmas or the holidays, Thomas said it comes from the theme of The Nutcracker, a rocking horse underneath the tree.

The new YAC holiday staple will be on display at the centre's foyer until the new year and will then be stored away for the next Santa parade.

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