Car do­na­tion is right up Hutto’s al­ley

Kan­sas cou­ple gives their hippo-themed Bee­tle to city.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Claire Os­born cos­born@states­man.com

— You can’t visit Hutto with­out see­ing stat­ues and other ref­er­ences to its mas­cot — the hippo — all over town.

Lo­cal leg­end has it that a hip­popota­mus es­caped from a cir­cus train pass­ing through Hutto in 1915. Now the city has an­other way to cel­e­brate hip­pos.

This month, a Kan­sas cou­ple that be­longs to an in­ter­na­tional hip­popota­mus fan club do­nated a spe­cial car called “Sun­shine” to the city. The 2002 Volk­swa­gen Turbo Bee­tle has pic­tures of hip­pos, flow­ers and peace sym­bols painted on it. The peace and love themed il­lus­tra­tions are meant to evoke the “hip­pie” era of the 1960’s, said the car’s for­mer own­ers, John and Sheila Voeller.

The cou­ple, res­i­dents of Lea­wood, Kan., said they gave their car to Hutto be­cause they were down­siz­ing. They al­ready have more than 5,000 mostly ce­ramic hip­pos in their col­lec­tion at home.

“We are thank­ful to the Voellers for their gen­eros­ity and ex­cited that fam­i­lies and groups are re­mem­ber­ing Hutto for their char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions,” said Eliska Padilla, the city’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor in a city news re­lease.

The Voellers be­long to a hippo fan club called “Hip­poloto­fus,” which has more than 1,000 mem­bers world­wide, John said. Sheila plans reunions that bring club mem­bers to­gether.

The cou­ple vis­ited Hutto in 2015 for one of the reunions and said they were im­pressed by the town’s de­vo­tion to hip­pos.

“I thought it was a great place for ‘Sun­shine’ to re­tire,” John Voeller said.

Added Sheila: “It’s the fi­nal rest­ing place for her, and there’s no bet­ter place in the world than such a happy hippo town.”

Ten years ago, the Voellers paid $6,500 to artist Pep­per Greer, a Florid­ian who painted the hip­pos on the or­ange car, which also has or­ange up­hol­stery. The VW has about 58,000 miles on it.

Hutto plans to dis­play the car at city events, and the ve­hi­cle will be at the Farm­ers Mar­ket that runs from 5 to 8 p.m. ev­ery Wed­nes­day at Fritz Park, 306 E. Live Oak. “Sun­shine” also will be at the KOKEFest mu­sic fes­ti­val on Aug. 10-11 at Hutto Park.

BRAZZ­IELL / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN RI­CARDO B.

Two mem­bers of a na­tional hip­popota­mus fan club do­nated their hippo-themed car to Hutto. The 2002 Volk­swa­gen Turbo Bee­tle, nick­named “Sun­shine,” has pic­tures of hip­pos painted on it. Said pre­vi­ous owner John Voeller of Hutto: “I thought it was a great place for ‘Sun­shine’ to re­tire.” He and his wife Sheila had vis­ited Hutto in 2015.

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