Normally clean-shaven Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk didn't know his facial hair would cause such a stir, but every day, people are weighing in on his new mustache.
And that's the idea.
He's growing the 'stache as a participant of Movember, a push to bring awareness to men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. The movement takes its name from "moustache," a variation on the spelling of mustache.
Movember is the global men's health charity engaging men to grow, and women to support, a mustache for the 30 days of November.
A man's normally bare lip becomes the topic of discussion and an opportunity for him to discuss the risks of prostate and testicular cancer and the benefits of testing and early detection.
It's been more than a decade since de Werk sported a mustache, so multiple times a day, it sparks a talk about men's health.
But first, "Some people laugh and say, 'That's not very befitting,' and other people say, 'That is so cool are you going to keep it?' " de Werk said.
He joked that one person referred to it as a doughnut duster.
De Werk isn't exactly fond of the whiskers, but "if through this publicity more males become aggressive about getting checked, then it will have been very worthwhile."
Many participants get friends and family to sponsor their hair-growing efforts to help fund education, survivorship and research, according to Movember.com.
But one of the biggest obstacles men tackle is simply a reluctance to discuss be it with their partner, family or doctor health issues they face, according to the Web site.
Movember aims to address the issue with a fun and engaging initiative to encourage men to be more involved in their health.
Public Safety Executive Assistant Carissa Higginbotham encouraged de Werk to participate this year after she learned about it on Facebook. Last month, to raise breast cancer awareness, the city put pink ribbons on nearly every fleet vehicle in the city and firefighters wore and sold pink T-shirts.
"We can't make a big fuss over women's health without supporting awareness for the men's health issues that are also a problem," Higginbotham said.
Movember started in Australia in 2003, but has spread to 20 other countries. Still, the movement is modest in size.
About 145,000 people participated in the United States in 2011.
De Werk, who is also Ceres' city manager, got the City Council on board with a proclamation declaring November as Movember.
"Movember Ceres encourages men to
dedicate themselves to the appreciation of fine moustachery," it states.
De Werk said, "If it's the role of our little community to be a good starting point and we do it again next year, and the year after, maybe it will gain greater traction, but it has to start somewhere."
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.
AT A GLANCE
Why Movember is important:
In 2012, more than 242,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer.
One new prostate cancer case occurs every 2.1 minutes.
A man dies from prostate cancer every 18.6 minutes.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men after skin cancer.
The incidence rates for prostate cancer are significantly higher in black men.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men.
97 percent of prostate cancer cases occur in men age 50 and older.
1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime; 1 in 3 women will be.
1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. males ages 15 to 34.
1 in 270 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer during their lifetime.