The massive orange dinosaur with glowing red eyes along Beach Boulevard is a source of fascination for many Jacksonville residents, both old and new.
The dinosaur, affectionately nicknamed Rex by locals, has been in the same spot since it was constructed in the 1960s.
At the time, Rex was just one of several bizarre concrete animals hanging around what was known as Goony Golf, a miniature-golf chain that once boasted over 35 locations nationwide.
Rex and Goony Golf
Essentially, Goony Golf was a lot like what Adventure Landing is today. It had mini-golf, go-kart rides, and other staples of child entertainment complexes.
It also had its giant animals. In fact, Rex had twin brothers at several Goony Golf locations around the country, most of which have since been torn down. These were apparently pretty common at mini-golf courses; a similar dinosaur was saved from being demolished in Massachusetts.
Rex’s job was simple: he sat alongside Beach Boulevard at the end of one of the mini-golf course’s holes, announcing its presence along the road in a fun, creative way.
Many older Jacksonville residents have fond memories of the course, which closed down just prior to the turn of the millennium. For them, Rex is a reminder of the good ol’ days.
Local real estate company Ash Properties took over the Goony Golf property after it closed and converted it into a small strip of commercial space. They opted to leave Rex alone in hopes of finding a new home for him.
Eventually, the company decided it would be best to leave Rex right where he’d been for decades. No other location proved to be suitable, and transporting the 20-foot structure to a new location would not exactly be an easy task.
With Rex staying put, attention shifted to restoring his appearance. Ash Properties brought in UNF’s Building Construction Management department to give him a nice new coat of bright orange paint and sand down some rough edges. The project was completed in 2007.
Today, Rex still glow bright red along Beach Boulevard. Given the memories attached to Rex and his quirky, enjoyable presence on one of Jacksonville’s most important roads, it seems unlikely that he’ll be going extinct anytime soon.