Glenn's Hometown News: Roaming with the dinosaurs in Granger - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Glenn's Hometown News: Roaming with the dinosaurs in Granger

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GRANGER, WA - Welcome to another edition of Glenn's Hometown News. Whether you're young or old, or somewhere in the middle like Glenn, many of us are fascinated with dinosaurs. How did they get to be so big? And how did they survive for millions of years? In this week's travels, Glenn went to a place where they still roam the Earth.

The City of Granger is located in south central Washington, and with less than two total square miles of land, it's safe to say its nearly 3,500 residents know each other fairly well. This includes the 30-something life-size prehistoric beasts that live among them. Granger is a dinosaur lover's paradise. But why here? The City's Public Works Director, Jodie Luke, says it all began in the early 90s, when the City wanted a tourist attraction. Ultimately, the idea came from their annual parade, which featured various animated animals.

"So we thought dinosaurs would be politically correct and we built one, without letting anybody know, and we just set it in the park," Luke said. "See what the reaction would be."

The reaction was immediate and positive, and the timing couldn't have been better, as that first dinosaur was complete right around the time when the movie 'Jurassic Park' hit theaters. 

"It ballooned up - the kids especially," said Luke. "They just, that thing - it went over really well with the kids. The kids were climbing on it, playing on it all the time."

So, more dinosaurs were built. Four to five in the first few years, and then one per year since then. 

When you drive around the city, you'll find them everywhere, not just at the park. There's a mama and her babies in the heart of town, there's one enjoying a treetop for an afternoon snack, and even one lurking in the water. For Luke, who's been with the City for 31 years, it's a labor of love.

"It's something that we kind of look forward to," he admitted. "I look forward to it, even after 30-some dinosaurs, because they're always different."

Each dinosaur is made to scale, using quarter-inch round steel bars, then wrapped with two layers of chicken wire, and layered with cement, and finally painted. They typically take about two weeks to complete and can weigh between one and three tons! Funded through private donations, each one costs about $500 to make. But who decides which kind of dinosaur gets built each year?

"Early on, we would uh, we would have input from the community, say, 'hey, we ain't got one of these kind...we ain't got this,' so you know, that's done a lot of it," Luke said.

And it's still done that way today. Most of the popular ones: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus, Velociraptors, and even a Pterodactyl are all here. In fact, it's hard to go anywhere in Granger without seeing one. But the best spot in town might be Hisey Park.

After spending the day driving through the city trying to find as many of the prehistoric creatures as possible, Glenn asked Luke why he thinks the fascination with dinosaurs remains so strong.

"They were on this planet for so many millions of years, you know, compared to us, so I think that must be the attraction, but I don't know for sure," he said.

And of course, we all have our favorite dinosaur.

"The long neck!" said young Yakima resident Maggie Olson, who was visiting the dinosaurs with her family. "Because I love the long neck."

Luke says the kids today teach him and his staff a thing or two when it comes to dinosaurs.

"The schools will come," he said. "The school will bring classes through and do tours at our shop, as we're forming up the metal, and the kids - they're very knowledgeable of dinosaurs. They actually teach us: 'no, you're pronouncing that wrong. This is how it's said.'"

These Jurassic creatures are not just treats for the local school kids, either. People have come from all over to see the Granger dinosaurs.

"There's people from all across the country," Luke explained. "We had a family from New York here, and they had seen them online or something, and they made a point..they were visiting Seattle, but they made a point to come here for Dino in a Day."

For Luke, who helped build the first one, the story of the Granger dinosaurs has come full circle.

"Now we've got adults that helped do some, that are bringing their kids, so I think that's part of the popularity too."

As Glenn concluded his visit to Granger, Mayor Jose Trevino stopped by, and Glenn asked him what he thinks makes these dinosaurs and this city so special.

"I think it's the community involvement and the caring about the community," Mayor Trevino said. "Our community cares about the city and that's what makes them special."

And what a wonderful community it is. And if you're interested in helping build one of the next dinosaurs, the city is having its annual Dino in a Day event coming up on Saturday, June 3rd at Hisey Park. There are picnic tables, a refreshment stand, and plenty of open space to roam among the dinosaurs.

If there's something in your hometown that's unique and interesting, send Glenn a message at