Hippo Capital of Texas? Hippos, in Texas???
Hutto High School had to have a mascot, and it came up with the Hutto Hippo. In 2003, the Texas Legislature declared the city of Hutto the “Hippo Capital of Texas.” Sure they did, but with a straight face?
Hutto: Not Texas’ ‘Hippo Capital’ for nothing
By By Todd Hilliard (Daily Texan Staff)
HUTTO - The “Hippo Capital of Texas,” as it was named by the Legislature last May, is making sure it will retain that title years into the future.
Hutto’s association with the enormous African beast dates back to 1915, when a stopped circus train inadvertently released one of the animals onto a nearby farmland. Local farmers who remembered the amusing sight named the high school’s mascot after it in 1917.
The city’s first hippo facsimile, Henrietta, stills stands proudly off East Street in downtown Hutto, where she was placed in 1992. Dozens more have gathered around town lately in a show of town pride organized by Mayor Mike Fowler.
“The hippo is clearly our town identifier,” said Fowler, who organizes a group called Hippos Unlimited. “I’m definitely pro-hippo.”
Hippo mania splits Texans
Critics say proliferation of school mascot is tacky
by Lianne Hart
Los Angeles Times
August 08, 2003 — 2:12 a.m.
HUTTO, Texas — The 725-pound concrete hippopotamus in front of the tanning salon wears a big smile and an orange-and-yellow polka-dot bikini. The one by the El Poblanito restaurant is dashing in its black sombrero and gaucho pants. And over by the title company stands an orange hippopotamus with longhorns glued to its head.
All over town, dozens of the 30-inch hippos have been dressed up and put on display, all part of Mayor Mike Fowler’s plan to attract tourism and industry to this central Texas community.
“People remember hippos,” said Fowler, stepping around a dozen squat figurines, the yet-to-be-presented Golden Hippo Awards for good citizenship, in his office. “Hippos, hippos everywhere. . . . What in the world is wrong with that?”
Plenty, say some residents who complain that their tidy town is turning into a hippo theme park.
“It’s just stupid,” said Murray McDonald, former president of Hutto’s Chamber of Commerce. “It’s totally embarrassing is what it is. We’re trying to get away from the image of a little old country town. We’re trying to make this place look like something.”
With plenty of cheap, undeveloped land, Hutto is poised to become home to thousands of people priced out of the market in Austin, 30 miles to the south. Housing tracts already are spreading across the railroad tracks from Hutto’s quaint main street. The town’s population, which doubled between 1990 and 2000, is nearing the 5,000 mark. In five years, city planners estimate, it may double again.
At this point in the city’s development, the hippo — although a fine mascot for Hutto High School — “is not the professional image that we want to portray,” said Councilman Jeff Phillips, one of Fowler’s harshest critics.
But Fowler, 56, vows to carry on as long as residents share his vision. This town hasn’t seen a live hippopotamus since one escaped from a circus train a century ago, but still, the mayor said, the animal is a “local treasure.”
Official Capital Designations - Texas State Library
Hippo Capital of Texas
House Concurrent Resolution No. 89, 78th Legislature, Regular Session (2003)
H.C.R. No. 89
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, The city of Hutto has long cherished as its symbol one of the earth’s most impressive animals, the hippopotamus; and
WHEREAS, A reported news story holds that in 1915 a passing circus train stopped at the Hutto railroad station and a hippo from the show escaped into the muddy environs of nearby Cottonwood Creek; recovering the hippo from such a spot proved no small feat, and the adventure with the exotic animal became enshrined as a legend in local lore; and
WHEREAS, The hippo serves as the community identifier for all of Hutto, as well as the official mascot of Hutto High School—believed to be the only high school in the country represented by this massive creature—and of the Hutto Independent School District; the high school’s costumed mascot has appeared at numerous sporting events, parades, and other special occasions, drawing media attention and representing both the school and community in a unique, fun, and positive manner; and
WHEREAS, Hutto Olde Tyme Days, an annual three-day event sponsored by the Hutto Chamber of Commerce, is also known as the Hippo Festival; now in its 18th year, the festival provides abundant family recreation and serves as a unifying force in the community, while bringing additional revenue into the Hutto area; the city council has decreed that during the course of the festivities, each third weekend in October, the town of Hutto shall be known as Hippo, Texas; and
WHEREAS, The name hippopotamus is derived from the Greek phrase meaning “river horse”; one of the largest land animals, the adult hippo weighs almost five tons and yet is quite agile in the water; though herbivorous, it is ferocious when threatened or angry and is considered to be the most dangerous animal, other than man, in all of Africa; and
WHEREAS, According to an African folk tale, God created the hippopotamus and told it to cut grass for the other animals; when the hippo discovered how hot Africa is, it asked God to let it stay in the water during the day and cut grass during the cooler night; God agreed reluctantly, fearing the hippo would eat the fish in the river, but the hippo pledged to feed only on vegetation and remained true to its word; and
WHEREAS, For roughly a century, the imposing hippopotamus has been treasured by the people of Hutto as an emblem of their town and the surrounding area; inspiring pride and community solidarity, the hippo symbol has further played a significant role in promoting economic development and tourism in Hutto; and
WHEREAS, This imposing mammal is so ingrained in the identity of this fine community that when the name “Hutto” is mentioned, the natural response is “Hippos”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate Hutto as the “Hippo Capital of Texas” and commend the citizens of this fine community for their outstanding civic achievements and public spirit.