Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gorilla celebrates holidays with Wellman family

By Michael Cary
A thousand pound gorilla takes up residence in your front yard.
What are you going to do about it?
Dress him up as Cupid on Valentine's Day.
In the springtime, paint him pink and hide Easter eggs under his nose.
During high school football season, guess who's a sidelines cheerleader?
A thousand pound gorilla in your yard can turn some heads as a Thanksgiving turkey, or with a large red Christmas bow on his hat.
The question remains, just how did that gorilla find a home in your front yard?
"It all started when I wouldn't tell my husband what I wanted for my birthday," explains Marsha Wellman, an Aransas Pass transplant (15 years ago) from Bryan/College Station (Texas).
"My husband said 'be careful what you ask for,'" Wellman said, regarding the 1,100-pound concrete gorilla that sits in her front yard on Saunders Street.
The gorilla, a product of a statuary company in Taft, required a forklift to take him off the truck when Gerald Wellman brought it home for his wife's birthday in 2002.
Since then, the Wellmans and their neighbors have enjoyed dressing him up for special occasions – he has his own boat and welcomes friends who come to town for fishing trips.
"We both work on his outfits," Marsha said. "And my neighbor, Hope Dávila, is the one who dressed him up as a Panthers cheerleader.
"We do something patriotic in July, one year he was Uncle Sam, and during Easter he is a pink bunny almost every time," she said.
It has gotten to the point that people stop by to take photos with the gorilla, and neighbors ask why he's not dressed up when the Wellmans forget a holiday.
The gorilla, which still has no name, is a welcome addition to grandma and grandpa's yard for Abby Krisl, who lives in Aransas Pass, and John Wellman, who visits occasionally from Katy.
"We dressed him up one year for Shrimporee, and Gerald and I cooked shrimp for our friends," Marsha said.
"He had on an apron and carried a shrimp net, but he wasn't in the parade, he's too heavy," she said.
Currently, the thousand-pound gorilla is painted snow white, wears a pilgrim's hat (his Thanksgiving turkey feathers are now stored in the garage), a large red bow, a muffler around his neck, and he is spending the Christmas holiday as Frosty the Snowman, complete with charcoal eyes and a carrot nose.
"When it snowed in 2004, he was a reindeer. He looked wonderful," Marsha said.
The gorilla is a reminder of where the Wellmans came from. They frequently traveled through La Grange near Bryan/College Station, and frequently saw a large concrete gorilla in a yard in that town.
But the inspiration came to Gerald when his wife wouldn't tell him what she wanted for her birthday.
"Now there's a list every year," Marsha said.

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