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Washington couple brings children's imaginations to life with colorful 'monster zoo'

This "pandemic project" was inspired by spring cleaning that uncovered old art created by Stella's son 15 years ago. The couple then brought the drawings to life.

SEATTLE — There are monsters on the loose in Shoreline, but they're mostly cute and cuddly looking monsters that children in the Ridgecrest area imagined themselves. 

John Small and Stella Caldwell live along a typical neighborhood street but their yard is highly unusual.

Their "pandemic project" was inspired by some spring cleaning that uncovered some old school work. Stella found old art created by her son some 15 years ago.

There were pictures of silly-looking monster characters and it made them smile and that’s when they decided to use a few pictures as bait.

"Everyone is doing the teddy bear in the window thing for kids and I thought we could do something a bit different," explained Stella.

The couple decided to turn a few drawings into wooden lawn creations and placed them at the end of the driveway with a small sign and a scannable QR code.  

John said, "We sort of didn’t make it super clear on purpose and figured people would look and maybe take out their phone and scan and it would redirect them to our Facebook page."

That’s where excited participants learned they could submit their own imaginary monster drawing and could even fill out a sheet of field notes.  

Kids could come up with the scientific name of their monster and other details like what it eats, where it lives and more to help bring their creation to life.

Then, John and Stella transform the drawings into real lawn monsters and their monster zoo has grown from a few to dozens of colorful monsters with inventive origins. 

"I love that most of them are adorable and fun…not scary or dark," said John.

The couple is currently building another half dozen submissions and said the best part is watching neighborhood kids stop by to see how the zoo has grown.  

"What’s better than hearing kids laughing? That’s the best!"

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