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Thousands Pack Downtown For Dedication Ceremony

By Hoag Levins ...| ...Oct 18, 2003

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A Dinosaur Becomes Haddonfield's Most Memorable Landmark

HADDONFIELD, N.J. -- Eighty million years after it died near water, floated out to sea and sank into the mud; and one hundred forty five years after the discovery of
Hadro unveiled
Photo: Hoag Levins
At the moment of unveiling, the parachute covering was whisked away to reveal John Giannotti's dinosaur sculpture. Also see larger photo.

its bones set off a scientific revolution, Hadrosaurus foulkii was commemorated with a massive bronze statue unveiled in downtown Haddonfield today.

The ceremony in Lantern Lane was attended by borough, county and state officials as well as more than 2,000 dinosaur enthusiasts young and old who clogged the closed-off streets in the center of the town's business district. The program of speakers was limited to the mayor, the two top officers of the HATCH dinosaur sculpture committee and artist John Giannotti.

Parachute covering
On a brilliant fall day, the crowd packed itself shoulder-to-shoulder to watch as Mayor Tish Colombi and Giannotti focused all attention on a huge shape covered by a multicolored parachute.

"This sculpture is a community work that celebrates all of us in southern New Jersey," said Giannotti, who went to unusual lengths during the last year to involve large numbers of local residents in the artistic project. He even had more than a hundred people help him apply the clay to the original model built in a barn behind his West End Avenue home in Haddonfield.
Hadro crowd
Photo: Hoag Levins
Several thousand people crammed the streets for the unveiling. Also see larger photo.

"Are you ready?" said Mayor Colombi, working the audience like a rock star at a sold-out concert. "Are you really ready?" she asked as the crowd roared back a roof-lifting "Yes."

The final moment
The final moment of the unveiling was played out to the theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey, "Thus Spake Zarathrustra," which blasted from a high-powered sound system flanking the stage. At the crescendo, Fire Company volunteer Steve Brees, positioned on the roof above, yanked a rope and the parachute lifted, its edges fluttering in the wind, to reveal the dinosaur sculpture below.

The crowd erupted in a thunderous din of applause, whoops and yells at the dramatic life-like quality of the figure. Climbing on an outcrop of rock, and looking down at them from ten feet above, the bronze beast appeared poised to dart away into the Cretaceous undergrowth. Strikingly, the eyes are sculpted in a manner that makes them appear to be looking directly into those of the humans gazing up at the prehistoric face.

Historical Society president
One of the spectators gazing up was Richard Pillatt, a Collingswood businessman and president of the Camden County Historical Society. "This is history as rare as it gets. What the HATCH Committee has done is truly extraordinary," he said. "It has created a landmark icon that expresses this county's unique role in the history of paleontology. Clearly, the historical, educational
Photo: Hoag Levins
Crowds patiently waited in lines as long as an hour to view the new sculpture in Lantern Lane. Also see larger photo.

and commercial implications of what they have accomplished here are very significant."

"While a good deal of attention has been focused on important local attractions like battleships, aquariums, and revolutionary war activities," Pillatt said, "what we see today shows that there is nothing that excites children and adults -- or draws crowds -- quite like a dinosaur."

The ceremony was the culmination of a three-year Haddonfield Garden Club project that began with a casual conversation about the need to brighten up the gardens in Lantern Lane, a broad pedestrian walkway that cuts through the heart of the village-like town. In their remarks HATCH co-chairs Jan Twitchell and Beverly Aldeghi detailed how the plan took shape and, much to their amazement, blossomed into a $140,000 project that drew press attention from TV stations, newspapers and magazines around the country.

The project is being funded by public donations; HATCH is still working to raise the final amount needed, roughly estimated to be about $30,000.

Foulke family
Also in the crowd were dozens of members of the Foulke family whose ancestor, William Parker Foulke, initiated the 1858 dig
Mayor Colombi
Photo: Hoag Levins
The three at the center of the Hadrosaurus foulkii project were, left to right, Jan Twitchell, co-chair of HATCH; Mayor Tish Colombi; and Beverly Aldeghi, co-chair of HATCH. Also see larger photo.

that found the fossil on a farm near what is now Maple Avenue. A member of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, William Parker Foulke excavated the world's first nearly-complete skeleton of a dinosaur -- an event that allowed scientists to see and study the full anatomy of a dinosaur.

In an 18th-century world still skeptical about talk of such fantastic prehistoric life, Hadrosaurus foulkii was the event that proved gigantic creatures with the anatomical features of lizards and birds had really existed. Its discovery triggered a rush of exploration and discovery that gave us all we know -- and love -- about dinosaurs today. The creature's scientific name incorporates a Greek form of Foulke's name.

The complete, illustrated history of the HATCH dinosaur sculpture project can be found on; additional background detail about the Hadrosaurus foulkii's historical significance can be found on

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Past Hadro News:

> Hadrosaurus at The Foundry: A Dinosaur in Fire and Molten Metal
> Haddonfield Dinosaur Sculpture Park Nears Completion
> Hadrosaurus Day at Camden Stadium Raises Funds
> Walking With Dinosaurs: Dino Day in Haddonfield
> Hadrosaurus Sculpture Nears Completion
> Sculptor Opens Studio for Dinosaur Sculpture 'Clay Day'
> Full Size Rendering of Dinosaur Sculpture Unveiled
> John Gianotti Selected for Dinosaur Sculpture Project
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