Dinosaurs taking over Elkin Park

By Kathy Chaffin - kchaffin@civitasmedia.com

Dinosaurs at Elkin Municipal Park?! No way!

Weather permitting, there will be Sunday as part of Abstract Church’s “Jurassic in the Park.” Mr. Ed, a Concord puppeteer who dresses as a paleontologist, will be bringing “Dakota & Friends” — which “walk, blink and roar” like real dinosaurs — as part of the Christian adventure-based event.

There will be four-wheeled dinosaurs for small children to ride along with an inflatable dinosaur-themed sword obstacle course for older children.

Other activities will include a bouncy rock volcano for children to play on and a dinosaur egg dig. Inside each egg will be a dinosaur toy the children can keep.

The event will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the park, located at 399 N.C. 268 West. Free hot dogs, nacho chips, desserts and drinks will be served. In the event of rain, Jurassic in the Park will be held in conjunction with the Pirate Adventure event scheduled for Aug. 16 at the park.

Abstract Church Pastor Alan Parsons said “Jurassic in the Park” is one of a series of monthly events being held at Elkin Municipal Park for children and their families. Growing up a Christian, Parsons said he wondered why he couldn’t find anything in the Bible about dinosaurs except for a passage in the book of Job that some theologians say referred to the prehistoric creatures.

“At one point, we weren’t eating meat,” he said, “and everything lived in harmony. At that point, I believe dinosaurs were existing right alongside of man.”

Parsons said he was never quite satisfied with the answers he received when he asked people why he couldn’t find dinosaurs in the Bible. “It wasn’t until really starting to study apologetics,” he said, “which would be defending the faith, and looking at history and science and how all that tied in, that the answers really satisfied me …

“A lot of people say that science and Christianity work against each other,” Parsons said, “but I would say that it works together … Thankfully, I’m not the only one who asks questions.”

Educational material about dinosaurs will be available for children at the event for children to take home with them.

The “Dakota & Friends” show presenter Mr. Ed was working as an exhibit interpreter at the North Carolina Zoo when he volunteered to do a road show representing the zoo as a puppeteer. In appreciation of his service, zoo officials awarded Mr. Ed with his very own dinosaur puppet.

He named it “Baby T” and began performing at birthday parties and other events in the Charlotte area. According to his Facebook page, Mr. Ed “absolutely loved what he was doing and began to think bigger …”

“That’s when Dakota was born,” he wrote on his “Dakota & Friends” page.

Over time, Mr. Ed created even more dinosaurs for his performances and rescued broken dinosaurs, including the Triceratops Triplets, which he will bring with him on Sunday. His “Dakota & Friends” experience now features six different dinosaurs, exploding volcanoes, natural habitats for the dinosaurs and much more.

Parsons said Dakota is a huge dinosaur, but his friends are smaller and very “kid-friendly.” Children really like the baby dinosaur puppets, he said. “Their head and tails and eyes and mouth move.”

Several hundred children and adults have turned out for Abstract Church’s monthly events at the park. Parsons said 750 attended May’s “Super Heroes” event, and 550, June’s beach-themed event.

At next month’s pirate-themed event, for example, he said the message will be finding the treasure. “Obviously the treasure in that would be Christ,” he said.

Starting in October, the monthly events will be held at the church at 1785 N. Bridge St.

Parsons started Abstract Church two years and eight months ago. “We’ve grown to close to 200 people during that time,” he said, “and we’ve had 124 salvations.”

The church begins with a coffee hour at 10:15 a.m., followed by worship service at 11:15. “Our hope is that here within the next few months,” he said, “we’ll actually have a second service.”

The purpose of the park events and other events held by Abstract is not to grow the church, Parsons said. “We do it for the kingdom of God,” he said, “and if they come to church here, that’s great.”

Parsons said he is always happy to recommend other churches if people don’t find what they want at Abstract. “Ultimately, we just want people to be in a Bible-believing church where they can grow in relationship to the Lord,” he said.

Born and raised in Elkin, Parsons graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a major in theater and a minor in musical theater. He left college to work at Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania — the largest Christian theater in the nation.

Excited about the opportunity and the life he thought he had always wanted, Parsons said he was miserable in Lancaster. “I was crying and everything,” he said.

That’s when he heard God calling him to preach. “I was 20 years old when God really spoke to me,” he said. “That’s what I was supposed to do. That’s what I was created to do.

“It was awesome.”

Parsons is finishing up his studies at Moody Bible Institute out of Chicago and in the process of completing the requirements for a certificate in apologetics from Biola University in southern California.

Kathy Chaffin can be reached at 336-258-4058.

By Kathy Chaffin


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