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As We See It

Holy dinosaur! You have what in your front yard?

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Pete the dinosaur at Shang-Gri La Prehistoric Park in Las Vegas, Nev on July 12, 2014.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

Pulling into his driveway last October, Steve Springer noticed a wedding party crossing the street with plans to marry in his front yard.

The couple had come from Illinois to wed outside the retired schoolteacher’s Henderson home with no advance notice. Dressed and ready for the occasion, they just asked if it would be okay.

“When?” Springer asked, to which they responded, “Now.” The wedding commenced, and afterward Springer even allowed them to step into the front yard (though just barely) for a post-nuptial photo shoot.

Shang-Gri La Prehistoric Park

He likely sent them off with party favors, too. He’s known to hand out tiny plastic dinosaurs, not just to visitors, but to the public at large while out and about. “Wherever I go I have a pocketful of dinosaurs,” he says. “The kids call me the dinosaur man.”

What else would you call someone who’s mounted a costly dinosaur exhibit named Shangri-La Prehistoric Park in his front yard, drawing 15,000 visitors a year? The biggest question is never “Why?” he says, but “Where?” as in, “Where did you get these?” Ours is “What?” as in, “What have you got against garden gnomes?” But that’s neither here nor there when you’re standing before a T. rex statue 20 feet in length and just about as high.

The cost for the mostly resin works is not for the public to know, he says, though shipping freight for just one set him back $5,000. The joy he’s spreading is what it’s all about. “We’re the only dinosaur park in Nevada.”

Though the 46 prehistoric sculptures, including two on the roof, overlap eras and wouldn’t have walked the Earth at the same time, they coexist peacefully at 733 Greenway Road.

But things weren’t always this way. Springer’s previous décor was an Old English theme, he says, with unicorns, a lion, aliens and a couple of Yeti. One day he spotted a giant dinosaur while flipping through a catalog and out they went: “When we went prehistoric, unicorns didn’t exactly fit in.”

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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