At 11 a.m. on a cool spring morning, the Statue of Liberty crossed busy Market Street in Amsterdam.
Andrew Overby — dressed in the mint green gown and spiked crown of Miss Liberty — had just bought an energy drink at Stewart’s convenience store. Once across Market, the 23-year-old Amsterdam man was back on the job as an advertising and public-relations consultant for Liberty Tax Service at 133 Market St.
This consultant only works from January through the middle of April. The exuberant Overby gives Miss Liberty flash, funk and flair as he shows off and steps lively in front of the Liberty office and reminds people that taxes are still in season.
“Everybody thinks I’m drinking beer when I drink these,” Overby said, sipping from the silver can. “They say, ‘You’re drinking beer on the job?’ I say ‘No!’ ”
The congenial, sunglasses-wearing Overby needs all the energy he can get when he’s on his sidewalk stage in front of Liberty, on a hilly section of Market across from Bunn Street. From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, he moves and grooves on the pavement and in the street, waving to people in cars, trucks, buses and vans. He gives drivers double thumbs-up and double peace signs. Overby points to people as they approach his spot, and wears a big smile never seen on the dour Lady Liberty who stands in New York Harbor. He swivels and shouts, bobs his head; occasionally, he’ll do cartwheels in the street.
The game is also on Saturday, from 1 until 4 p.m.
Tanya Leonard, district manager for eight Liberty offices in the Capital Region, said every Liberty outfit employs a performer during tax season. The job description used to be “waver,” she said, but too many men and women who dressed in the gowns and crowns took the description too literally. They just waved to motorists and pedestrians.
“When you call them a ‘performer,’ they do what Andrew does,” Leonard said. “He just brings a little bit of happiness to a time people find stressful.”
Overby, a 2006 graduate of Amsterdam High School and an offensive tackle and middle linebacker on the Rams’ football team, is taking a break from chemistry studies at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He wore his Liberty costume over a black sweatshirt, blue jeans and sneakers. Blue gloves were on his hands and a wool cap was under his crown, concealing stereo earphones that provided rock, hip-hop and dubstep (electronic and industrial mixes) — inspiration for Miss Liberty’s frantic footwork.
“If it attracts attention, I’m all about the attention,” Overby said. “I just try to put a smile on people’s faces.”
By 11:15, Overby had received dozens of stares, return waves and smiles. A man dressed in a black and blue jacket walked out of a small apartment building next to Liberty. “How’s it going, brother?” Overby said, smile in place. “Good,” said the man, somewhat unimpressed.
Overby returned to a more receptive audience. At 11:20, he made a few jumps and watched a tractor-trailer rig amble up Market Street. He got the driver’s attention by pulling down an imaginary truck horn cable. The guy at the wheel smiled and pulled down his cable, sounding the rig’s big horn.
At 11:25, Yuderka Morales of Amsterdam walked up the sidewalk and made the turn into the Liberty office. Overby beat her to the front door. “I always open the door for pretty women,” he said. Morales smiled and thanked the Liberty man.
Overby said he doesn’t worry much about the cold. Even though January, February and March were feeble representatives for this past winter, Overby said he kept warm as long as he kept moving.
“I think some of the past few days were actually colder than January,” he said, remembering spring’s early chill.
Overby said some people will scowl at his performance. Some will extend an even harsher review by extending middle fingers as they drive by. “They’re not patriots, I’m taking it, if they’re flipping me off,” he said.
The swinging statue also said some motorists are oblivious to the street and sidewalk scenes. They’re too busy talking on their cellphones.
“If I was a cop, this would be the perfect undercover disguise,” Overby said, aware that police often ticket cell conversationalists at the wheel.
At 11:35, Barbara Hauser and Kimberly Morrison pulled up in a black Mazda and parked near Michael’s Hair Studio, one of Liberty’s neighbors on the block. The two women run the business.
“Hugs! Hugs! I require hugs,” Overby said, walking toward the car. Hauser and Morrison smiled and complied, wrapping their arms around their friend.
Morrison said Overby is also good for the hair studio. “He opens the door for all the ladies, gets us coffee, he even gets his hair done here,” she said.
“He’s very good,” added Hauser.
Two Amsterdam police cars moved slowly past Liberty Tax. The first driver, a woman, smiled and waved. The second police officer, a man, offered a half-hearted smile.
At 11:42, a pedestrian stepped off the curb in front of Liberty and waited for a break in traffic. Overby helped out, walking her into the busy street. “Who wants to stop for the pretty lady?” he asked, throwing out his question to cars and trucks. “I don’t believe chivalry is dead completely.”
Overby takes occasional coffee breaks. He smokes cigarettes, too — but never as Miss Liberty.
“Not in uniform,” he said.
A few minutes before noon, two young guys prepared to cross Market Street, and stood near the Stewart’s store. One pointed to Overby and began doing robotic-style dance moves; he laughed as he walked across the street. Overby laughed with him.
“I think we’ve got a new waver,” he said. “What are you doing? You coming over here to take my job?”