Committee member Elizabeth Wheeler presented to Village Council on Monday night the preliminary plans to bring the legacy of “Gertie the Dinosaur” back to life at Mill Point Park, honoring Gertie's creator — Spring Lake-native Winsor McCay, a cartoonist and animation pioneer.
McCay, born about 1867 and raised in Spring Lake, is credited with being an inspiration to Walt Disney for his ability to make still drawings come to life on a movie screen.
Each year at the Annie Awards (the equivalent of the “Oscars” for the animation world), a Winsor McCay Award is presented for lifetime achievement in that field.
The committee’s plans include an archway sign over the non-motorized path leading from Mill Point Park into the wetlands. It would recognize McCay as being a Spring Lake native. The proposal also includes putting cement dinosaur footprints, approximately 16 inches long by 10 inches wide, near the playground on the east side of Mill Point Park.
Wheeler said the committee would like to rename the play area “Winsor McCay Playground.”
Over the past decade, the committee has added a “Winsor McCay Day” and cartooning workshops to the Spring Lake Heritage Festival lineup. They have also lobbied the state to install an historical marker between Spring Lake Township Hall and Spring Lake District Library, the site where the school that McCay attended once stood and where his artistic talent was first discovered.
“As we've moved along, we've tried to find more visual promotions of his significance,” Wheeler said. “What really made sense was Mill Point Park. To promote Winsor McCay there would certainly get his reputation out.”
Wheeler said committee members hiked the park and are in “100 percent agreement” about proposed plans there.
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