The 16-foot boot outside the Vactor Ranch development on Sabino Canyon Road once advertised The Tack Room, a five-star restaurant.


Those who travel Speedway have a special guardian protecting them. He's not an angel, but he does have wings.

Fred, the winged flying buffalo, sits atop the roof of Copper Country Antiques, 5055 E. Speedway.

You've probably seen him, dressed up for different occasions. He is currently painted as Captain America.

Phillip Gaillard, owner of Copper Country, says Fred is "captain of prosperity, happiness and safety for those who travel on Speedway."

Gaillard came across Fred at an undisclosed location about six years ago. He brought him home and welded wings on him so that he'd be the "only winged buffalo in captivity."

"I've always had a soft spot for buffalo," Gaillard said. He didn't intentionally go looking for a store mascot, but when he saw Fred, it was love at first sight.

Fred got his name from the wife of a former employee.

"She just started calling him Fred, asking how he was doing, and what he was up to next," Gaillard said, "and I thought that's a good name."

Fred has inspired ideas in the store, such as a monthly Buffalo Bargain Day. The store also has a talking buffalo that moves his head and winks.

Gaillard is the idea guy when it comes to the costumes Fred wears.

He felt it was important to have a Captain America to welcome the troops home.

"I don't know why more people don't thank our troops. ... I wish more people would do something like this," Gaillard said.

Fred has even had a lady friend. Frida - a gold-colored buffalo who sits in front of the store. According to Gaillard, "They are still good friends, but they will probably never get married."

Passers-by identify Copper Country by the buffalo on the roof. When he is taken down for a new paint job or an outfit change, people call and ask where he is.

Schoolchildren love him, and ask what his next costume will be. "They go nuts," Gaillard says.

Fred also cheers people up. Some have been known to park in front of the store to look at Fred when they have bad days.

"Fred's a good guy," states Gaillard. "He makes people happy, and that's a good thing."

Contact Angela Pittenger at or 573-4203.