Jim Brisbane’s dino-mite garden
By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor
Overseeing the park are several life-size and fairly life-like mannequins, dressed as park rangers.
I had to dress it up and put on the boots and the wig and hat and the vest and whatever goes with it, he said. And I had a guy, at one time, pull up in his car and he got out and actually started talking to a mannequin because he thought it was a real human.
If you’ve driven past the corner of Kalb and Mac Arthur Streets in Allouez and thought you saw a dinosaur peeking over a fence, you’re not seeing things — you’ve stumbled upon the backyard garden of Jim Brisbane.
If some of the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park of Allouez look familiar, Brisbane says there’s a reason for that.
“I get them on the internet,”he said. “They’re made in the philippines. These are the same models that were in the Jurassic Park… Except in the movie, they animated them.”
There’s four of these Jurassic Park-esque dinosaurs in the yard — one in each corner.
“I planned it to have one in each corner of my property back here,” Brisbane said. “Once I placed them, then I started filling in with plants that I have planted myself, one plant at a time.”
What started as a simple search for a lawn ornament evolved into what Brisbane and others who have visited the garden refer to as the Jurassic Park of Allouez.
“I got on the internet looking for a yard, a yard ornament,” he said. “I didn’t want a deer laying down or a bird bath, you know. That’s common stuff. And then I ran across a dinosaur.”
But Brisbane didn’t stop at just one dinosaur. His yard is now home to many dinosaurs and other creatures of varying species and sizes and is truly a sight to behold.
Scattered throughout the yard and among the dinosaurs are several toy jeeps — much like those seen in the Jurassic Park film.
“People would take and throw these out on the curb — they’d throw them away,” Brisbane said. “But I was lucky enough that I’d run across these out on the street. They were going to throw them in the landfill. I figured, why not throw them in the trunk of my car and bring them here?”
The Jurassic Park of Allouez is a labor of love for Brisbane, who started the project only after retiring from the paper industry after four decades.
“I put in 40 years where I worked and took all the overtime I could,” he said. “So it’s kind of hard for me to haul all that stone that’s around the yard. That took me over a month — about a month and a half — to haul all that in the trunk of my car.”
Brisbane welcomes visitors to check out his carnivorous collection, and says he’s had more and more people interested since the garden became more visible to passersby.
“I had a wooden fence and the wind came and knocked it all down, so I had this one put up and it doesn’t go as high,” he said. “People couldn’t see what was back here from the street, and after that fence went down, people would come by and say, ‘Geez, I never knew you had all that stuff back here.’”
Brisbane said that some of his favorite visitors to the garden are kids and often sends them home with their very own toy dinosaur as a souvenir.
“I do enjoy when people come to check out the garden,” he said. “I get a big kick out of the kids. The kids are so smart today. They know the names of all the dinosaurs and they get very excited.”
When asked if he was a fan of the Jurassic Park movies, Brisbane said, “Only the first one.”
“Anybody I’ve talked to, I’ve asked them which one they like the best and they all agree with me,” he said. “They said the first one was the best.”
While many elements of Brisbane’s garden bear a semblance to items from the film, there is one item on display that actually came from the movie set — a helmet worn by a cast member during filming.