After a successful charity campaign last year, Boise’s famous landmark Betty the Washerwoman is back for another round.
Among Boise’s most iconic sights, Betty the Washerwoman is a mechanized sign advertising local Italian and comfort food restaurant Cucina Di Paolo, located at 1504 S. Vista Ave. Last year, owners Paul and Mary Jean Wegner created a calendar to sell to the Boise community using photographs of Betty dressed up in 12 elaborate costumes. In the end, the calendars raised $27,400 for the Idaho Foodbank.
The Wegners will donate a new calendar’s proceeds to three organizations: the Idaho Humane Society, Pet Peace of Mind and the Fuzzy Pawz Rescue. The 2019 calendar can be purchased starting in October and will cost $20.
“We were thrilled to learn of the calendar fundraiser that Cucina Di Paolo organized benefiting the Idaho Humane Society,” said Kristen Schellhaas, spokeswoman for the Idaho Humane Society. “We are inspired by our community members and the extent that they go to fundraise on our behalf because they believe in our mission and programs. Simply put, if it wasn’t for faithful supporters like them, we wouldn’t exist.”
Mary Jean Wegner said the idea of making another calendar for pet-based organizations came to her while she was walking her dogs. After seeing the success of the first calendar, she thought creating another would prove more effective than a singular $50 donation, which she was considering.
Of course, the new calendar will feature Betty in 12 new outfits — one for each month. The costumes will include a cowgirl, Princess Leia from Star Wars, a woman who is fishing, and an LGBT pride outfit for June.
“There’s something for everyone, because we’re for everybody,” Wegner said. “It’s like sending little smiles. When they pass by and see her, they hopefully have a smile to take with them to start out their day.”
Community members who want to give more can donate $50 to have photos of their pets included in the calendar. The deadline to make this donation is Aug. 25.
The calendars are just one example of Betty the Washerwoman’s popular status in the Boise community. In 2015, after the sign’s motor broke, community members and businesses came together and donated $2,000 to fix it. Last year, several Boiseans offered their help in finding several pieces of Betty’s props and clothing, which had blown away during a storm.
In 2013 Betty was selected as one of Boise’s 150 icons by the Statesman to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial, and was later featured in the 150 Boise Icons book.
“We’ve always known about the sign and its popularity, but we didn’t always appreciate it to the degree that it is,” Wegner said. “People always tells us what it means to them.”
Cucina Di Paolo is temporarily closed due to an injury Wegner suffered while working. The owners hope to be open again on Aug. 6, though it could be longer. Further updates can be found on Cucina Di Paolo’s website.
Brandon Rasmussen: 208-377-6486, @