Saturday in the park was supposed to belong to Billy the goat, but competition from Maddie the lamb, Elsa the black sheep, and Strawberry the pony was fierce.

As goats go, Billy won't bite and can't clear a field, but will happily bear the weight of children all day long. He's a statue, after all.

What he can't do is bleat like little Stewie the lamb, one of the many petting-zoo animals brought to Philadelphia's tony Rittenhouse Square to celebrate a new Billy, the much-beloved 99-year-old statue.

Maya Swartz, 4, tries to feed one of the real goats during a festival for the unveiling of the new “Billy” statue.
DAVID MAIALETTI
Maya Swartz, 4, tries to feed one of the real goats during a festival for the unveiling of the new “Billy” statue.

Benjamin Lindo, 7, of West Philadelphia, associates Rittenhouse Square so much with Billy that he calls it the "goat park." But seeing live goats in the square was special.

"I know a lot about them," Benjamin said. "A goat defends itself by head-butting."

The original bronze 2-foot-tall statue of Billy by sculptor Albert Laessle had worn smooth, making parts of him appear golden, from a near century's worth of tiny hands lovingly petting him and clutching his curved horns while climbing him.

So how did sitting on the new Billy, sans patina and wear and tear, feel?

"This one's a little better," Benjamin said. "I wouldn't climb on a real one. It might head-butt me off or kick me."

Posed upright with spiked fur and a collar, Billy had endured the elements since 1919 as the Rittenhouse neighborhood around him grew. He wasn't enthusiastically welcomed at first — by adults. When proposed, they found Billy absurd. Too small, they said. But children befriended the statue right away. Today, it's a favorite photo stop. Passersby stop and touch his horns, or spend a few minutes admiring him from surrounding benches.

The new bronze goat is an exact replica with legs astride and chin tucked. Billy is poised for the next 100 years, and most days he won't have to fight for attention with live — and balloon — animals. Even so, his edges could use a few decades of kid polishing.

"It kinda hurts," said Parker Caldwell, 5, sitting on Billy's spiny back Saturday.

Steve Sader, of Center City, who remembers sitting on the original “Billy” as a kid, cleans off the new statue.
DAVID MAIALETTI
Steve Sader, of Center City, who remembers sitting on the original “Billy” as a kid, cleans off the new statue.

For one day the statue's typically serene southwest corner of the square had so much to offer toddlers and young children that, at times, Billy was standing all alone.

"Don't get them wrong, they love the statues," said Nina Breslin, as her children hovered over Al the alpaca. "I have many pictures on the goat over the years. It's almost like milestones."

Her son Alexei, 10, was relieved that Billy was back in action. "For a second I thought they were taking it away," he said.

But after quickly checking out the new Billy, Alexei was ready to move on.

"Mom, can we get face painting done?" he asked.