Called the Techno Trojans, the Fruitport F.I.R.S.T. Robotics team is working to bring the old Muskegon Mall’s Kris Moose back to life at The Lakes Mall for this holiday season.
The project is about a year in the making after Julie Sustaita, the assistant general manager and specialty leasing manager for The Lakes Mall in Fruitport Township, tracked down the moose’s whereabouts. After seeing social media posts recalling memories of the moose that was once part of the former mall’s Christmas display and wondering what happened to it, Sustaita worked to find out. She estimates the moose is at least 40 years old.
“I thought I would bring some happiness to people,” she said.
Last year, Sustaita located the moose and worked with the owner to purchase it. The woman had bought the moose after the Muskegon Mall closed in December 2001, and she had stored it in a garage ever since, Sustaita said.
Although Sustaita acquired the head, the remainder of the moose is still missing. The moose previously had arms and sat in a large gift bag.
Individuals running the Haunted Hall in the mall are helping build a stand for Kris Moose. Sustaita is looking for individuals to volunteer and help determine a body for the moose.
Before the moose was sold, Sustaita said its robotic components were removed.
In the coming weeks, the Techno Trojans team plans to obtain a new control system, control box, movement controllers, solenoid controls for pneumatics and pneumatics for operations. The team will then begin programming.
The team plans to retain the moose’s ability to interact with people and to snore when he isn’t being operated.
“We want to bring it back to what it was,” said head coach Joe Hebert.
When the robotics team posted on social media about their efforts, Hebert said he was surprised by the response and the emotions that people expressed about the old moose.
“There’s a lot of people out there who remember it so fondly,” he said.
Hebert, who moved to Muskegon in 1987, recalled seeing Kris Moose one time, but it was snoring.
When Sustaita reached out about the moose, Hebert said he thought it was a great opportunity for a fun and different project for the team. He noted that most members of the team were born after the Muskegon Mall was closed.
Fruitport junior Nick Piper, 16, said he expected a smaller moose.
“It’s not something you see every day coming through the doors,” he said of the large moose head.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with Kris Moose’s body may contact Julie Sustaita by phone at 231-798-7104, ext. 227; or by email at Julie@thelakesmall.com.