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 world-wide, 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.