HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — The signature symbol in Hutto is the hippo, and now the city itself is creating a new line of these homemade icons.
On Wednesday, crews from the city’s street and drainage department installed a concrete hippo statue that weighs more than 14,000 pounds by the entrance of the new City Hall.
While several other large statues like this one are located throughout the city, this is the first one made by city crews at home.
“We’re usually dealing with paving and drainage work and sidewalks,” Mark Nunez, the city’s street and drainage superintendent, said. “So when we were first tasked with it, it was like, wow, let’s see what we can do, but we’re always up for a challenge.”
The crews created the hippo statue using a concrete mold that the city bought from a company in Oklahoma, which wanted to discontinue making the large orders. Because the statues are so popular in Hutto, the city did not want to lose the ability to create more of them.
“I’m very proud of this, especially since it’s in front of the new City Hall,” Nunez said while pointing to the hippo statue placed Wednesday.
He and his crews made another hippo with the mold, which will be delivered later when development is finished at the city’s new Innovation Business Park.
Thousands of hippo statues can be seen throughout Hutto in front of homes, businesses and other buildings. Many are painted in bright colors and personalized. The Hutto Area Chamber of Commerce currently sells several small hippo statues in prices ranging from $25 to $275.
Mike Fowler, who previously served as mayor and on the City Council, said he helped push for people to display hippos everywhere as a way to brand the community. In his experience he said it’s worked.
“I’ve had people come up and visit with me and when they find out I’m from Hutto, the first thing they say is Hutto Hippos,” Fowler said. “That’s maybe all they know about our community, but when it happens to you in Europe, when it happens to you in Hawaii and California, it’s pretty special.”
How the hippo became Hutto’s official mascot may date back to 1915.
The story goes that a circus train passing through town stopped, and somehow a hippo escaped and got into Cottonwood Creek.
“[The message] ‘hippo loose in Hutto stops trains’ was sent by telegraph by Farley, who was the station master at the time,” Fowler explained.
Now that the large hippo has been placed at City Hall, city leaders plan to hold a design contest to decide what will be painted on the gray concrete statue.