By Cheryl Williams
Travel to the Jurassic this Valentine’s Day weekend! On February 13 and 14, participating businesses across College Park will display pictures of dinosaurs in their store fronts as part of the College Park Dinosaur Hunt — a free, family-friendly, outdoor scavenger hunt.
The Route 1 Corridor is known as Dinosaur Alley, due to the wealth of fossils found in the area’s clay-rich soil. Paleontologists and amateur dinosaur hunters alike have found fossils at various sites in Laurel, Beltsville, College Park, Greenbelt and Bladensburg. Maryland’s first known dinosaur, Astrodon johnstoni, was discovered near Beltsville, in 1858, when African American miners at Muirkirk ironworks unearthed two unusual-looking teeth. These teeth were later examined by Dr. Christopher Johnston, a professor at the Baltimore Dental College, who noted the star-like shape of each tooth’s cross section. Astrodon, or star tooth, was the first sauropod discovered in North America, and was named the official Maryland State Dinosaur in 1998.
Travel down Route 1 today, and you will see a cheerful, pink and green sauropod painted on the side of Vigilante Coffee’s College Park cafe. Believed to be an apatosaurus, this skateboard- and coffee-loving dinosaur was designed and painted by professional skateboarder Abe “Orange Man” Dubin. Glenn Roesller, special events coordinator for Vigilante Coffee, shared that the coffee shop is participating in the College Park Dinosaur Hunt as part of its “ongoing commitment to celebrate the vast number of wonderful small businesses that call College Park/Route 1 home. We’re honored to be a part of that community, one that we expect to keep growing & improving as more entrepreneurs discover all College Park has to offer.”
Proteus Bicycle, just off Rhode Island Avenue, in the Hollywood Shopping Center, is home to various miniature dinosaur figurines. The staff regularly position these dinosaurs throughout the shop as a fun activity for visiting families. “Precovid, I would send kids on scavenger hunts to help me find the dinos,” co-owner Laurie Lemieux said. “They are fun and a conversation starter!” Lemieux is excited to share her shop’s dinosaurs as part of the College Park Dinosaur Hunt. “I love seeing people smile. We all need some levity these days!”
Potomac Pizza, located near the intersection of Route 1 and Campus Drive, was the first business to register as a site for the College Park Dinosaur Hunt. “I personally am a huge fan of dinosaur history,” said Chris Martin, director of marketing and community relations for Potomac Pizza. Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the shop will be featuring a brontosaurus, Martin’s favorite dinosaur. “We have built and maintained fantastic relationships with area schools through fundraisers and other events,” said Martin. “We will always partner on whatever we can.”
A map to all of the dinosaurs featured in the scavenger hunt will be posted on the College Park Dinosaur Hunt website (see below) on February 13. Participants are encouraged to hunt for dinosaurs during daylight hours, and can search from their vehicle or on foot. All participants not in a vehicle are required to wear face masks and maintain safe social distancing, staying 6 feet or more from other participants at all times.
For more information on the College Park Dinosaur Hunt, visit collegeparkdinos.com.