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Hudson River giant head has Marist 'dumbfounded'

Marist College's crew team found a 7-foot, Styrofoam-and-Fiberglas

Marist College's crew team found a 7-foot, Styrofoam-and-Fiberglas head floating in the Hudson River. Rendered in the style of a Greek or Roman statue, the head "looks like something out of a futuristic dystopian movie," Marist crew coach Matt Lavin said. Now the team is trying to find out where it came from. (April 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Matt Lavin

Marist College officials continued to scratch their noggins Wednesday about the origin of an oversized Styrofoam and Fiberglas rendering of a head that was pulled from the Hudson River on the day before by the college's crew team.

"Everybody is wondering where it came from, who[m] it belongs to," college spokesman Greg Cannon said Wednesday.

"We were hoping that through [media] exposure, it would help us get to the bottom of this," Cannon said. "I'd think if someone knew it was missing, they'd go looking for it ... I'm dumbfounded."

The head, cast to look like a stone statue in the style of ancient Greece or Rome, was found bobbing in the river just after sunrise Tuesday. It took about 10 rowers to haul the waterlogged head from the river near the Poughkeepsie college's boat dock.

Marist officials believe the head was a decoration, perhaps a stage prop. Cannon said he has reached out to some local theater groups via social media but hasn't heard back.

No one is sure how the mystery head ended up in the Hudson, or even which direction it came from, because the Hudson flows both northward and southward, depending on the tide, with tidal forces sometimes pushing saltwater north from the Atlantic Ocean and freshwater from the river's source -- at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks -- flowing south.

Social media users continued to take their whacks at figuring out the source of the prodigious pate, which some of them likened in appearance to British actor Hugh Grant.

One Newsday reader, a New Orleans native who described himself as an antiques dealer "with a knack for figuring out what things are or used to be," said he believes the head could have made a 1,300-mile journey by way of the Atlantic.

"The second I saw that head I thought: Mardi Gras float," the reader wrote. "Many of the floats have Greek themes, and the Gulf Stream ocean current goes north along the East Coast. I would bet that head was part of a float that washed out to the ocean during the [Hurricane] Katrina flood and floated on the current up north."

One poster on the social media site Reddit suggested it might have rolled downhill from the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in the City of Poughkeepsie. Another suggested it might have come from a building torn down along the waterfront.

Still others waxed literary.

"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" one wrote, channeling Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 sonnet "Ozymandias," which tells of a crumbled statue and its inscription as relics of a long-vanished empire.

For now, the colossal cranium is residing at the Marist boathouse, Cannon said.

"I don't think it's causing any space issues ... we'll just hold on to it until someone says, 'Hey, you have my head.' "

And what if no one claims it?

"We're open to suggestions," Cannon said. "Maybe have the art students build a body for it, I don't know."

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