Imaginative Seuss characters delight McKee sponsors at preview party

VERO BEACH — Just as Dr. Seuss’s fuzzy, yellow Lorax attempted to save the environment from the greed of the Once-ler, McKee Botanical Garden Gatekeepers and contributors worked to save the future of the Garden from developers. 

So it was only fitting that the Who’s of Vero’s own McKeeville were treated to a special preview party peek at “A Season of Seuss: The Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden and Art Exhibit.” Famed for saying he “speaks for the trees, as the trees have no tongues,” the Lorax would have been thrilled with the impact these generous McKee contributors have made, and most likely with the exhibit itself, in which he is prominently featured.

Christine Hobart, McKee’s Executive Director, said the notion of presenting the creative exhibit came from Mary Ruth Foley, McKee Director of Philanthropy, who had seen it at the Coronado Hotel in San Diego.

“This season we wanted something fun and who does fun better than Dr. Seuss?, asked Hobart.   “It’s a fairly new travelling exhibit; I think we’re the first garden to host it. But the Lorax speaks for the trees; how perfect is that for a botanical garden.”

Costumed as famous characters from his books, the staff had definitely gotten into the Seussical spirit.  Hobart and her assistant Kim Russell were authentic looking as Thing 1 and Thing 2 (characters from The Cat in the Hat known for their infamous indoor kite flying), wearing red outfits with blue wigs and feathered slippers.  Foley greeted arrivals in a red and white stripped Cat in the Hat styled hat, and the diminutive Cara Chancellor, Director of Marketing was easily twice her size in a yellow Lorax costume.

Five large-scale bronze sculptures representing The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham and Yertle the Turtle, are scattered throughout the Garden, as are Seuss-style signs and information about his characters and books.  The Christmas-treed Whoville village, currently prominently displayed at the front entrance for Holidays at McKee, will move in January to the Bamboo Pavilion, alongside the Grinch statue.

“They’re going to have a Dr. Seuss reading room, where they’ll read his books to children every Saturday,” said board member Susan Schuyler Smith.  “On the main jungle trail, there will be two whole books, with individual pages along the path that parents can stop at and read to their children.  At Easter they’ll be doing a green eggs and ham lunch.  It’s going to be a whimsical year. This place is not boring!”

Smith also pointed out with amazement that Green Eggs and Ham is the fourth best-selling English children’s book of all time.  Written on a bet, the 62-page volume is comprised solely of 49 one-syllable words.

The Hall of Giants wasn’t attracting many takers because of the chilly night, but it too has an assortment of fanciful Seuss creations: nine mounted “heads” of imaginary creatures from “Dr. Seuss’s Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy, including the Sawfish, Semi-Normal Green Lidded Fawn, Turtle Necked Sea Turtle, Anthony Drexel Goldfarb, Kangaroo Bird, Andulovian Grackler, Goo-goo Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast, Mulberry Street Unicorn and Sludge Tarpon.

Inside the festively decorated Education Building, with its fascinating, large-scale model train display, guests were enjoying the warmth, along with an assortment of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

“It is so imaginative; that’s what makes it so fantastic,” said Alma Lee Loy.  “I’ve been reading a few of the books lately including, You’re Only Old Once; I read that one twice.  I can see why youngsters would enjoy them.”

As she thanked the gathering for their support, Hobart quipped of her outfit, “I’m not sure I’ll ever be taken seriously again.”

She closed her remarks with a most appropriate quote from the Lorax, “Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”

“A Season of Seuss: The Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden and Art Exhibit” runs until April 30 and will also will be featured during “Holidays at McKee” from Dec. 18 to 22, with the Garden decked out in its most festive Seussical holiday decor. {igallery 322}

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