Life-sized dinosaur drive-by brings joy to Children’s National Hospital patients

Kids at Children’s National Hospital got a big surprise recently when a life-size dinosaur visiting from the Dino Safari at National Harbor circled the block outside.

“It’s a real one! It’s a real dinosaur,” one of the youngsters exclaimed.

“Magical” is how a staffer described the children’s anticipation and reaction as the 25-foot triceratops passed by repeatedly — coming into view from their rooms’ windows or the outdoor healing garden, where some were gathered.

“We also had some dinosaur characters — well, (people) in inflatable costumes — walking around and greeting the kids,” said Shannon Powell, an activity coordinator at Children’s National Hospital.

“They were having so much fun, seeing the dinosaur on the street and also the dinosaur in the garden. Also, there was the whole ambience — the music playing, the bubble machine going. Honestly, they were transported to a cool jungle land where dinosaurs roam free,” Powell said with a giggle.

Powell regularly schedules activities in the garden that’s nestled between two intensive care units.

“When patients and families and staff step outside into the fresh air, you see the change,” she said. “Patients come out in wheelchairs, or in beds from the ICU and some of them aren’t even used to feeling the sun on their faces.”

Powell regularly schedules garden activities that might include, for example, slime, arts and crafts, music, movies, games and bubbles.

“It truly is incredible to watch. What the garden does for children is it allows them to be themselves, to be the ‘free child’ despite whatever they’re going through. And, to just enjoy,” Powell said.

Michael Harrison, 6,  tries to pose for a photo between two inflatable dinosaurs, played by Children’s National’s Shannon Powell and Angelica Bowman.

Kids at Children’s National got a surprise when Dino Safari rolled through the area. (Courtesy Children’s National)

Caleb Woodard, 8, and Liam Ferguson, 6, pose for photos at Children’s National after receiving a surprise from Dino Safari. (Courtesy Children’s National)

Children’s National’s Angelica Bowman (middle) wears an inflatable Dino costume as part of the Dino Safari surprise. (Courtesy Children’s National)

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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