Shuswap man finds a way to bring back beloved dinosaur herd

'I'm kind of addicted... I ended up buying more and more and more'

It’s Jurassic Park... with bubbles.

Sicamous has taken a prehistoric turn with the recent arrival of Mark and Lois de Bruijn and their family, which includes cats, dogs and dinosaurs. The latter had many people doing double takes over the Canada Day weekend as a triceratops, T-Rex and other prehistoric pals, accompanied by a bubble machine, made their debut while cruising Main Street.

“It’s what makes me happy, makes other people happy,” said Mark. “It’s just so much fun.”

His eye-catching trailer of animated dinos is a natural fit with his Mark4Gems rock and gem lapidary business, which is also how he got his first one. When he first started out in the rock business, he had a small company and attended a lot of flea markets where he “always spent more money than I ever made.”

“I seen a big T-Rex in the back of a truck at one of the rock and gem shows we do, and I told the wife, ‘I want that, I want to put it in the front yard’,” de Bruijn said of the dinosaur that started it all. “She said, ‘I don’t think so’.”

As the business became more established, they started attending bigger rock shows, but his dinosaur dream never died out. At one of those shows, he broke the news to his wife by asking if she remembered when he used to spend more than he made, to which she responded, ‘what did you do’?

“I bought a T-Rex,” he told her, having finally bought that original dinosaur. It didn’t stop there.

"I’m kind of addicted... I ended up buying more and more and more.”

In a compromise with his wife, de Bruijn kept his growing herd at their warehouse, where he also created a Family Fun Centre that became very popular. He did admit to getting one constant complaint though, with “I don’t wanna go home,” a regular refrain among the kids.

Despite the success of his business and attraction, it couldn’t withstand the downturn the market took a few years ago that caused him to lose everything. His dinosaurs went extinct.

Having recently moved to Sicamous from Abbotsford, he’s in the process of rebuilding his rock and gem business and, as locals have seen, his dino herd.

“I noticed one of my dinosaurs for sale on Facebook... so, there we go,” he said, again adding more along the way with four now installed in his truck and trailer.

While de Bruijn said his dinos make people happy, he found that doesn’t include everyone after he got pulled over by police in Abbotsford, the one and only time that happened.

“He goes, 'what are the bubbles for?' And I go, 'because people like ‘em,'” he recalled, managing not to add "except you."

More recently, a local dad had to face the wrath of his young daughter who was so mad at him after they missed seeing the dinosaurs in the Sicamous Askew’s parking lot because “he took too long to put his sandals on.” De Bruijn said the situation was defused by driving around until they found him.

“I really enjoy driving around in that truck and making kids happy,” he said. “And it brightens my day at the same time.

"It relieves my stress; it's the only way I can stay sane."



About the Author: Heather Black

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