Florida Roadside Kitsch
The Debary Dinosaur
Kitsch: Something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste. Humm. . . yeah, I think that's about right. I do love the Debary Dinosaur and how his outfits change with the seasons. To see him up close take Highway 17-92 south out of Debary and you can't miss him. He's on the south side of Highway 17-92.
Someone went to a great deal of trouble to create this outfit for the 15-foot tall dinosaur.
Spring Hill Pink Dinosaur
For an even bigger example of classic Florida Roadside Kitsch check out the Spring Hill Pink Dinosaur. In these images I edited out all the power lines, billboards, and other junk that has sprung up around the pink dinosaur in recent years.
I am about 6 feet tall so the Pink Dinosaur in Spring Hill has to be nearly 20-feet tall (6 meters).
These classic 1950s era dinosaurs were erected all over Florida to attract tourists to roadside attractions. Most of the attractions are gone today but some of the dinosaurs remain. To see this excellently preserved specimen take Highway 19 north out of New Port Richey. He's on the west side of Highway 19. If you get to Weeki Wachee you've gone too far.
Even this guy's feet are perfectly preserved. An ice cream shop sits behind him today.
Also on the west side of Highway 19 in Weeki Wachee is Harold's Auto which occupies an exceptionally well preserved example of 1950s pop architecture.
In a few areas the old roadside attractions have somehow endured. Sout
h of Miami is one such attraction, Monkey Jungle. On a recent trip to The Everglades I saw the sign for Money Jungle and said I gotta check that out. The attractions tag line was always "Where humans are caged and monkeys run wild."
Admittance cost a small fortune ($30 per person is the cheapest package) to walk through the cages and gardens. The monkeys are indeed still wild and have little cups on chains that they drop from the top of the cages, begging for raisins and peanuts. We found this most entertaining.
The monkeys were kind of mesmerizing. Watching them one could quickly see that they behave very much like humans. There is always a bully, a leader, a Mom protecting her kids (below), etc.
The MTV Moonman famous from 1980s trademarking of MTV music videos still stands along I-4 in Sanford. To see him up close get off at the Sanford Zoo exit (Hwy 17-92) and cross under I-4 (to the north side).
Seminary Giant Chicken
Florida isn't alone in preserving some roadside kitsch. This giant chicken can be found along the west side of Highway 49 in Seminary, Mississippi, about 30 miles north of Hattiesburg.
Chasing Florida Rainbows
Of course I'd rather be chasing Florida rainbows, but occasionally I can't help but stop and snap a photo of some of the old cultural treasures that remain. December - February are the best months to capture Florida rainbows as the low sun angle coupled with fast moving light showers off the Atlantic Ocean create these temporary shows through the winter.
Below: One of my best rainbow shots this season, at Lemon Bluff, on the St. Johns River near Osteen, Florida. A double rainbow.
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