“The park needs a new attraction every few years in order to reinvigorate the public’s interest. Kind of like the space program.” — Claire Dearing, Jurassic World

Twelve-foot tall foam dinosaurs have invaded Gwinnett County parks – and the county commissioners are totally cool with it.

County officials approved the acceptance of the donated dinosaurs in March 2018, with the intent of using them to promote fitness and park exploration.

“It’s like a scavenger hunt,” said County Community Services Director Tina Fleming. “You’ve got to go out and find it. It’s not like you’re going to just walk in and they’ll be right there. It’s family engagement, it’s physical activity, it’s just getting out in your parks and enjoying the resources that they have for citizens.”

Valued at $10,000, funding for the prehistoric creatures came from a previously awarded National Recreation and Parks Association “Meet Me in the Park” grant. The National Recreation and Park Association collaborated with The Walt Disney Company to expand “Meet Me at the Park,” awarding grants to improve access to inclusive play and physical activity for kids and families.

Ironically, the replicas were once part of a display at the Paragon at Satellite, but county code enforcement ruled the display a “visual blight” and forced their removal. At the time, county officials said developers did not get a special permit to erect the statues before they went up. When the shopping center went before commissioners to obtain the permit, the request was denied. Now, the blights are being used to draw families to the parks. “We’re so grateful to live in a community that has embraced this project and helped us to fulfill this dream,” said the Grants. “These awards are a reflection of the hard work from volunteers and city staff that made this park a reality.”

You can find Rex and his friends at Little Mulberry Park and the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center!