If you're like us, you probably have numerous memories of being terrified after turning a street corner and seeing the beady eyes of an inflatable rat. How else would you know that a union is pissed about something? And though that rat has become an integral part of life on the sidewalk, you probably didn't even know he had a name. It's Scabby The Rat, and he just turned 20! Scabby began making his mark on the city in the '90s; at its peak there were about 30 blown up all over the city. "The rat still stops traffic," said union consultant Ed Ott. "You don't want to be on the wrong side of that rat. It's almost better than a picket line."
Scabby made his first appearance at a union protest in Chicago in 1990, and soon Illinois-based Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights was shipping the rodent east. The masons union was reportedly the first New York union to use the rat, and now each balloon runs about $8,000. And now that he has finished his second decade, perhaps it is time to retire and make room for the inflatable bedbug, a new symbol of all that is terrifying in New York.