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    Trash from Disney is Pasco man's treasure

    A Zephyrhills auction buff hauls home a slice of Disney World with a recent find: a 20-foot plastic foam horse.

    By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published December 29, 2002


    ZEPHYRHILLS -- Whoa!

    Martin Aulbach bought himself one big horse.

    An auction aficionado, Aulbach attends sales of odd items nearly every week. That's where he found one of his biggest scores, a giant plastic foam horse, which wound up prominently displayed in his front yard along busy Morris Bridge Road.

    It's hard to miss.

    "It's kind of a conversation piece," Aulbach said, admiring his giant horse.

    Indeed.

    The huge horse, standing about 20 feet high and 20 feet across, came from a Disney World auction, where Aulbach is a regular.

    "They had four of them," Aulbach said, recalling the September sale. "My friend bought two. He said, 'Come on, you've got to buy one.' I said, 'Well, if it's not more than $20.' "

    The 500-pound creation went for $20. Aulbach loaded it, broken legs and all, onto his trailer and took it home.

    "My wife didn't go on this trip with me," Aulbach said.

    "To tell you the truth, nothing he does surprises me anymore," said his wife, Donna. "It could have been worse."

    Aulbach, 56, figures the horse was part of the decor at a country-western themed bar at a Disney entertainment complex. Apparently the custom horses eventually had to go.

    But getting it home was just the beginning.

    First, the plastic foam pony needed a place to roam. Aulbach used some metal rails, (which he had scored at another auction) and bought $300 worth of concrete to stand it upright in front of his home.

    Then it needed repairs. Cracks in the hard shell exposed the soft plastic foam to the elements. The legs and tail were snapped off or barely hanging on. An additional $100 experimenting in cementing compounds yielded some success, but the jury is still out on their ultimate effect.

    Next, Aulbach plans to purchase foam blocks and will try to carve his own replacement for the missing right hind leg.

    Then he'll add a fence for the horse to be "jumping" over.

    When it's finished, Aulbach figures he'll have a unique lawn ornament.

    "It used to be hard to give people directions to our house," his wife said. "Now I just say, 'We have the big horse out front.' "

    Aulbach, a semiretired developer, has storage sheds full of his auction finds: old signs, golf carts rescued from Disney resorts, tools, a pair of papier mache chickens and other doodads. Ever the wheeler dealer, he recently snatched up 50 loads of ground asphalt from a road crew for a project he's working on.

    "My wife thought I was nuts to start with," he said. "She said I could have anything I want out here, but I can't have chickens."

    "They're messy," she said.

    "You've got to enjoy life," Aulbach said. "Work will kill you."

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