Central Vancouver’s newest celebrity isn’t saying much, but he’s starting plenty of conversations.
Vancouver couple Kaaren and Daniel Spanski-Dreffin introduced Manny the Mannequin to their Vancouver Heights neighborhood as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Each day, they’ve dressed Manny in a new costume and propped him up in their front yard at 908 S.E. 98th Ave., Vancouver.
“This is such a weird time, and people are trying to grasp onto anything that brings them a little laughter and joy,” Kaaren Spanski-Dreffin said.
Between Kaaren Spanski-Dreffin’s musical theater background, her job as director of the Boys and Girls Club, and the couple’s annual volunteer hours at a Danish language camp, the couple had plenty of costumes ready to go.
In the month since the couple started dressing the faceless white mannequin, he’s been dressed as Optimus “Amazon” Prime, a Transformer made up of delivery boxes, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and pop icon Madonna in her cone bra.
“They’re all fun in their own quirky way,” Daniel Spanski-Dreffin said.
In some ways, Manny has been waiting for this public debut for a long time. Daniel Spanski-Dreffin snagged him from a friend’s closing boutique for pranks, but he’s been spending most of his time stuck in the garage.
“It started off as shenanigans,” Daniel Spanski-Dreffin said. “It’s basically continued as shenanigans.”
The couple say it’s also given them a chance to make connections with their community, as well as providing a fun activity to do together in the midst of stressful times. Neighbors driving or cycling by have stopped to take selfies with Manny, and his Facebook page, 908 Mannequin, has picked up hundreds of followers.
Their 3-year-old daughter’s friends drove by when Manny donned an Anna costume from “Frozen,” and a neighbor down the street even asked them to dress up Manny for their future baby’s gender reveal.
It hasn’t all been fun and games, though. Someone, allegedly driving a stolen vehicle, struck Manny several weeks ago, leaving him with a broken leg and plenty of bumps and bruises. Daniel Spanski-Dreffin was able to put him back together with plenty of adhesive, but Manny did spend a day on crutches.
Some have offered money. Someone even left some cash in Manny’s hand as he recovered from his leg injury in the couple’s driveway. But the Spanski-Dreffins aren’t interested in profiting from their humor.
“It’s pure,” Kaaren Spanski-Dreffin said.
The couple aren’t sure how much longer they’ll be able to keep Manny going. They’ve got another couple dozen ideas still in the hopper, and could come up with more. For now, they’re enjoying the comfort — and routine — brought by dressing up a mannequin.
“There’s so much uncertainty,” Kaaren Spanski-Dreffin said. “We know Manny’s going to be there. It’s a constant.”