They’re pushing to bring the legacy of "Gertie the Dinosaur" back to life in a new park to honor Gertie’s creator — native cartoonist and animation pioneer Winsor McCay.
McCay, born about 1871 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), the Winsor McCay Award is presented for lifetime achievement in that field.
“He’s probably Spring Lake’s most famous citizen,” said Mark Miller, chairman of the Winsor McCay Committee and Spring Lake Historic Conservation Commission. “I think everyone needs to know that he had his childhood in Spring Lake. Children love 'Gertie the Dinosaur.' By today’s standards, it’s pretty bad animation — but, back then, it was entirely new.”
McCay is also known for his fictional character “Nemo,” a little boy with a wild imagination.
Here’s what committee members are imagining for a local park to honor McCay: dinosaur footprints, seating areas and perhaps a themed entry arch.
Although a location has not yet been determined, two sites are under consideration: the vacant lot immediately west of the former Phoenix Deli Cafe on the south side of Savidge Street, and the
Village resident Elizabeth Wheeler approached Village Council last week, saying it's a “dream” of hers to see a local park dedicated to the cartoonist. At a recent council work session, she presented a poster with dinosaur footprints and a metal archway attached to a wrought iron fence, representing the Savidge Street parcel.
Anyone wishing to help the Winsor McCay park project can make a donation on the village’s website.
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