McKinney’s Bigfoot: The True Story

2 Sep

McKinney BigfootYes, we know Texas isn’t exactly one of the places that boasts of having Bigfoot sightings. Usually you hear of his kin being spotted in the wooded areas of our neighbors to the north (Oklahoma), the more primitive areas of Kentucky and Tennessee, or much farther north in cooler climates (Washington State, Oregon and the like).

It may not be the usual place, but McKinney has a Bigfoot that calls the downtown square home. He hails from a little town in Missouri that he called home … until he was put into a car and brought to McKinney.

The McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau had been on the downtown square about six months when we partnered with local businesswoman Windy G. to start our Made in McKinney store. It’s been a beautiful partnership from the start, thanks to her super-creative ideas, zest for life and general zaniness. (Anyone who knows her can attest to this. And we all love her for it.)

McKinney dancing bigfootAround Oktoberfest time last year, Windy became fascinated with the idea of Bigfoot making an appearance in town. People drinking beer and interacting with Bigfoot just tickled her funny bone – it seemed a natural combination to her. So she bought a Bigfoot costume and throughout Oktoberfest, she and other friends took turns being Bigfoot as they mingled with guests enjoying frosty mugs of Franconia. And they did the chicken dance along with the polka bands. And she giggled, took pictures and came back to the office to share. And we laughed too.

Right around her birthday last year (Sept. 13) and just before Oktoberfest, Windy was driving home to McKinney through Missouri. When she returned to North Texas, though, she was not alone. She had found Bigfoot in Missouri and brought him home with her. She put him out in front of the Visitors Center (where her store is located) on a sort of trial run. But seeing peoples’ reaction to Bigfoot during Oktoberfest solidified her resolve, her idea that he needed to have a permanent home in downtown McKinney.

And so Bigfoot became more than a visitor downtown; he would now permanently reside on the northwest corner of Wood and Virginia streets.

One staffer who wasn’t sure of their new “friend” looked out the window and frowned at him. “What does Bigfoot have to do with McKinney?” and “How will we explain him to people? It’s not as if Bigfoot sightings are routine in McKinney. And besides, we’re not a curio shop!” were phrases that came out of this concerned and somewhat annoyed MCVB staffer’s mouth. And Windy’s response? “McKinney’s unique by nature, right? What’s more unique than a Bigfoot in the historic downtown?”

trick or treaters with BigfootWindy had a point. But this staffer still didn’t like him. And she frowned… that is, until she started noticing an interesting phenomenon. People were pointing, smiling, laughing, pulling out their cameras and phones, and posing for pictures on their way by the Visitors Center. This quickly became an every day occurrence. Other staffers would call her to come up and watch. And she got her camera to take pictures of some of them. No one ever frowned or declined the chance to pose for a snapshot with Bigfoot. They hugged him. They put hats on him. They kissed him. And they smiled.  They all smiled… a lot.

Within weeks, staffers started realizing other businesses on the square were giving directions to the Visitors Center by using the phrase “you’ll see Bigfoot out front. Yes, I said Bigfoot!” And people came. In less than a month or two, Bigfoot had become a downtown landmark. This made Windy smile. And so he stayed. She’d been right.

McKinney is certainly unique by nature. But that isn’t necessarily because of attractions or parks or restaurants, or even because Bigfoot is here. It’s the people who live here, the experiences people have when they visit here, the sense of community they feel, and the memories they take home with them of how McKinney and its people made them feel – like they were right at home, only better. Now, over the past almost year, one of those memories for some of them include the oddly-situated, 4-foot high, almost 200-pound scowling Bigfoot statue that greets them at the MCVB Visitors Center and Made in McKinney Store. He makes them smile and gives them a reason to gather around him to capture a fun memory of their visit here to this unique town.

Who’d have guessed it? Well, Windy G. did. And this “doubting Thomas” of a staffer takes off her writer’s cap to this whim, this hunch, as she now happily and lovingly embraces McKinney’s Bigfoot. All of us at the MCVB are glad he came to call the downtown square home so he can greet hundreds more visitors and become part of their travel memories through Facebook pages, Instagram shots, and maybe even a family Christmas card photo or two.

To see a photo album of McKinney Bigfoot’s first year in this north Texas town, visit the McKinney CVB’s Facebook page, Destination McKinney Texas.

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