Land O’ Lakes Gator Gets a Facelift
The gift from the class of 1987 had fallen into disrepair.
For nearly 25 years, a paper mache alligator stood sentinel in the pond just outside Land O’ Lakes High School. A gift from the class of 1987, the statuary proudly proclaimed the campus the home of the fighting gators.
Over the years, however, the gator fell into disrepair. Its appearance became haggard, and the mechanism put in place under the statue to enable it to float was starting to fall apart.
That’s why Principal Ric Mellin decided to take action this summer to spruce up the old mascot’s appearance. The gator was pulled from the pond and given a fresher, cleaner look. It now sits on the pond’s bank because it is no longer able to float safely.
“We knew we had to do something with it,” Mellin said of the effort to rehab the gator.
Working on the gator hasn’t been easy.
“(It’s) a little more complicated than we thought,” he said. “The paper mache makes it difficult to move.”
Still, the gator is a tradition at the school, he said, and one that staff members and students would like to see remain.
“Our goal is to do something special around it,” Mellin said. Some landscaping may go into place around the statue, or if volunteers step forward to help, a new floatation device might be created so the gator can go back into the pond.
Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a 1987 graduate, said she’s happy Mellin decided to give the gator a facelift.
“I love that it's still there and that someone has taken the time to show it some love and bring it back to life,” she wrote in an email. “My oldest daughter (Katie Fitzsimmons) will be starting her senior year at LOLHS this year, the same year I celebrate 25 years since I graduated from the same school. To drive her to school every morning and see that gator sitting out by the pond just makes me smile.”
Anyone who would like to help with the effort to rehabilitate the gator can contact Mellin at Land O’ Lakes High School, 813-794-9400. He is looking for material donations to help the gator float again.