Dawn McNamee, a part-time employee at the Canby Fred Meyer, was on her lunch break at the store when she saw the family of dinosaurs saunter by.
“I thought it was hilarious,” she says of the five people in matching, full-body, inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rex costumes of varying sizes.
Another worker, Stacie Prowant, also spotted the pack of orange theropods and even snapped a cellphone pic from the other side of the candy aisle.
“It was an excellent distraction from a hectic day,” she tells The Canby Current.
Modeled after the 2015 blockbuster Jurassic World, the costumes have been popular prank fodder for years, what with their tiny arms and the comical way their heads flop about when they run (the wearer sees through a piece of clear plastic in the neck, so the costume’s “head” contains nothing but air).
But they have seen a definite comeback this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Canby’s “T-Rex Family” has been active for just a couple of weeks now, visiting Fred Meyer several times and Safeway once.
Their originator, who asked to be identified only by his first name, David, describes it as destiny that he and his family would be at the center of something that is at once so joyful and also so silly. But, he admitted, it all began with an impulse buy at Spirit Halloween.
“My wife works nights and was sleeping in the middle of the day,” David told the Current on Facebook, via his new Facebook page, Canby TrexFamily.
“Being the responsible adult of three boys, we went on an excursion, got sidetracked and next thing you know, we raided my wife’s sleeping time and woke her up. All in full costume.”
David’s sons, age 15, 13 and 10, have all accompanied him on their various adventures around town. The matriarch has a costume now, as well, but she typically prefers to hang back, document and observe the reactions from people rather than join the fun, so one of the boys’ friends usually subs in her spot.
The reactions are indeed something to behold.
“Usually, after they finish laughing, they praise us for making their day, or thank us and ask for a picture,” David says. “The kids’ reactions are the best.”
The family does not don the costumes for their normal shopping trips, David explains.
“It is usually just oddball stuff like cookies and candy,” he says. “At Safeway, we got pumpkins to carve.”
At first, it was a lark, just something fun to do, David says. Then, they saw how it seemed to bring smiles and joy to so many people during a year where — because of the pandemic, wildfires, high unemployment, a divisive election season, distance learning and so on — stress, depression and other challenges are on the rise.
“Life needs to be a riot,” he says. “It should be lived to make every day your best memory or, if you can’t do that, try to be someone else’s. I tell people all the time, when I grow up I want to be just like me. It is a great thing to like who you are, and I will always be that goofy kid.”
David says he is working to set up other outings at local businesses, and that the family has no intention of hanging up their alter egos anytime soon.
“As long as everyone keeps on enjoying it, we will continue,” he says.