Liberty waver: ‘You get in a groove and go with it’

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Despite the cold and snow, Jake Zakavec spins his sign on the corner of Idaho and Meridian streets in Kalispell on Wednesday afternoon. Zakavec is one of nine young adults who dress up in Statue of Liberty costumes to promote Liberty Tax Service.

Temperatures well below freezing are no match for Jake Zakavec, who for the last week has regularly donned a Statue of Liberty costume to promote his employer, Liberty Tax Service.

Zakavec is one of nine young adults working as “wavers,” stationed near the intersection of Idaho and Meridian streets in Kalispell. Wavers hold signs touting Liberty Tax Service, a business that opened in Kalispell last year. It’s located at 1087 U.S. 2 West, next door to Sears.

Zakavec braved single-digit temperatures Monday and Tuesday for his three-hour shift as a waver.  While it was cold, he knew he had to do his job and was prepared for the day.

“You find ways to amuse yourself,” Zakavec said. “You put on some music, tune out and do your own thing.”

Three hours just flies by, he said. “You get in a groove and go with it.”

The statue costume itself is very lightweight and offers little protection from the elements, Zakavec said. So his typical dress for work includes a Columbia coat and long underwear so he can stay warm.

“I usually am sweating because I’m dancing so much,” he said. “People always ask how cold I am, but I’m OK.”

Most passersby are enthusiastic and responsive to the wavers, Zakavec said, “especially little kids in cars. They get excited and wave and jump up and down and their parents honk the horn.”

Zakavec has also has lots of positive response from bus drivers and law enforcement officers driving by his station.

Only “a couple people cast a blind eye,” he said.

Potential customers also stop to ask about deals or special offers from Liberty, he said.

Liberty owner Mark Robison said that last year he hired 19 young people to work shifts as “Lady Liberty.” The costume-clad wavers work from Jan. 8 until tax day, April 15. Liberty Tax Service has used the wavers to advertise the company since it was founded in 1994.

Zakavec likes his part-time, temporary job. “It’s a pretty fun job.”

It also has inspired the 19-year-old who wants to now enroll in classes to become a tax preparer.

Reporter Shelley Ridenour may be reached at 758-4439 or by e-mail at sridenour@dailyinterlake.com.

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