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T. Rex Head Arrives at SMART Centre Market

A fiberglass T. rex head takes up residence at the SMART Centre Market in Wheeling. After acquiring a permit, the owners of the store plan to install the fleshy head on an outdoor mount along Market Street.

WHEELING — Some Christmas presents fit under a tree. Others, like the one that arrived at the SMART Centre Market on Thursday, are big enough to hold a Christmas tree inside them.

The Tyrannosaurus rex head that the SMART Centre received funding for in October arrived in a 6-foot wooden crate.

It was soon set up in a temporary space inside the store, next to a skeletal cousin that is on display. Weighing in at 150 pounds, the fiberglass head eventually will greet drivers and pedestrians on Market Street. But Robert and Libby Strong, owners of SMART Centre Market, have some work to do first.

“There’s a couple more hoops to go through, but it’s been made, it’s done its traveling, it’s here in Wheeling. We got it in the store now, so getting it outdoors is the next stage,” Robert Strong said. “There’s a window that’s boarded up, and they made it fit right into that window.”

The head is expected to be put up on an outdoor mount sometime early in the coming year. Despite its size, the fiberglass construction isn’t particularly heavy — yet it will still require some equipment to get it situated, Libby Strong said.

The Strongs received $5,257 at October’s Show of Hands event to make the T. rex head a reality, designed to attract visitors to Centre Market and their store.

At the time, Libby Strong explained the idea for a dinosaur head hanging out the window of their shop originated when they visited the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and saw a life-size dinosaur model placed against the exterior of the building as if it were attempting to break the windows to get inside.

The head was fabricated by Enchanted Castle Studios of Natural Bridge, Virginia, at a cost of $3,500. Another $1,500 was estimated to be necessary for installation costs. The Strongs already applied for and received from the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission a “certificate of appropriateness” to place the T. rex head, and they have the permission of their landlord.

Now, Robert Strong said all that’s left to do is get a building permit from the city, which should be done over the next few weeks.

The crate that the head arrived in, he said, will be donated to local residents who can find a good use for it.

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