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A tiny Jurassic Park lurks on S.E. 19th Avenue

by: Rita A. Leonard This Westmoreland dinosaur garden is a hit with passers-by. How many dinosaurs do you see in this picture?

Passersby call it the 'Dinosaur House' in Westmoreland.

Both adults and kids are delighted by the display of some 100 miniature dinosaurs prancing over the rock walls at 7137 SE 19th Avenue.

Homeowners Barbara Gee and Brad Heiberg enjoy the response to their creative yard decorations. 'Everyone seems to have their own favorite species,' says Barbara. 'I'm amazed that the kids seem to know all their names.'

Barbara adds that people like to rearrange the dinosaurs in different scenes, or just set them upright if they've fallen over.

'We never seem to miss any, and they seem to have taken on a life of their own,' she remarks. 'As a matter of fact, some people even bring additional ones that they find at garage sales. We were pleased one day when a Sunday school class from Moreland Presbyterian Church, up at the corner, brought us a poster they had made that read, 'We love your dinosaur garden'!'

While the couple's rock garden is planted with many herbs and flowers, Barbara always felt that the stones looked rather plain and unfriendly. 'I finally took inspiration from those little horses that people fasten to horse rings on the sidewalks, and decorated the scene with miniature dinosaurs. It's my own community service project.

'Now the display has taken on a life of its own, and we've become a destination spot. Kids come and play for hours here, and passers-by regularly comment on the scene. I often hear parents on Sunday mornings reminding their children to 'put down the dinosaurs, we have to get to church'.'

As a modern complement to their dinosaurs, the Heibergs have a pet iguana, Earlene, who is nearly 4 feet long.

'She started out as a 6-inch-long iguana that my daughter had in college,' explains Barbara. 'My daughter named it Earl, but when she started to lay eggs, we changed her name to Earlene. She lives in her own terrarium, but has the run of the house indoors.'

Although Earlene towers over the miniature reptiles in the dinosaur garden, she's living proof that people are always fascinated by reptiles, old and new.