T. rex
Gideon the T. rex at SMART Centre Market

‘Prehistory Meets History’ in Wheeling’s Centre Market

All four showed up at Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands last October at the Wheeling Artisan Center, and then showed up again to lend a hand earlier this week.

Jon Smith, his son Derrick Smith (both involved with historic preservation studies at Belmont College), were on hand on Sunday to install the giant T. rex at the SMART Centre Market. Youngsters Killian Jackson and Oliver Whaley, who voted YES for the big dino, were there to watch.

Robert and Libby Strong, co-owners of the science shop and education center, made a winning case for their project — a T. rex head protruding from their Centre Market building — at the October Show of Hands sponsored by Wheeling Heritage. They won $5,257, beating out three other contenders. Couple Makes Strong Case for Dinosaur Project, Wins By a Head at Show of Hands

Libby and Robert Strong with a miniature version of the T. rex and a giant version of their winning check at the Show of Hands in October.

Why a T. rex?

“T. rex is usually considered the most popular and recognizable among the dinosaurs,” Libby said. “It is not the largest nor even the most fierce, but it really is popular … possibly because of ‘Jurassic Park.’”

Now that the new mascot is in place, the public can expect even more dinosaur programs at the SMART Centre Market.

“We have always done dinosaur programs, including dinosaur-themed birthday parties, but we anticipate that we will do even more,” said Libby.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, SMART Centre Market’s will present “How Big Was the T. Rex?” at 1 p.m. as their Saturday Science activity. “We have mini T. rex replicas for the participants,” Libby said. The program is free and open to the public.

“We, of course, hope residents and locals alike visit our shop, but we also think that the community can enjoy the T. rex as they come to Centre Market to enjoy all the area has to offer. It is a little ‘prehistory meets history’ now,” she said.

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Enchanted Castle Studio in Natural Bridge, Virginia, created the fiberglass dinosaur. Artist Amanda Carney of Cat’s Paw Art Studio, the February 2017 Show of Hands winner, whose business is also located in Center Wheeling, painted the faux window on the second floor to which the T. rex is attached. New signage, also funded by the Show of Hands winnings, has been placed on the building, as well.

“There may have been other sources of funding available, but we wanted to try Show of Hands first to involve the community more in the idea as it became reality,” Libby said.

The Strongs will report on the dinosaur’s arrival at next week’s Show of Hands — female entrepreneur edition — set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan.22, at the Wheeling Artisan Center. The event is hosted by Wheeling Heritage and the Women’s Giving Circle.

SMART Centre Market, Wheeling’s interactive science store, is located at 30 22nd St. in the historic Centre Market area.

Other SMART Centre Market programs this month include:

• 1 p.m. Jan. 25: Saturday Science Demonstrations “Spatio Temporal Trail,” at SMART Centre Market, free

• 6-7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31: Fifth Friday Science Lecture Series, “Charrette for Grand Vue Park’s Spatio Temporal Trail.”

• 7-8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31: Moon Watch at SMART Centre Market, free.

• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.