Written By: Veronica Dominicis
Annie no longer stood; she was left damaged, crumbled and destroyed. The only way to bring her back is to build her up from nothing.
She was fundamentally built for strength and tolerated many hurricanes and atypical weather that the Florida coast produced instantaneously. She unfortunately succumbed to the weather and was severely damaged during a storm in 2002, which eventually led to the destruction and collapse of the structure.
Ten years later, a group of locals created Save Dragon Point, a group that is still currently trying to rebuild the historic water dragon.
“We would like to bring Annie back because of her historical significance to the area,” Peter Moolhuizen, President of Save Dragon Point said. “The legend has it that the Indians on the area use to light fires on the point to scare intruders away.”
The Merritt Island water dragon, known as Annie to locals, was built in 1971 by sculptor Louis VanDercar. VanDercar was commissioned by Jeff Crystal, the owner of the property to build an over-the-top playhouse for children.
“I remember when I was little my family would go out on the boat and ride over to Annie, there were always families and people there climbing on her and in her,” Zoie Christine, a 19-year-old, Satellite Beach native said. “There would always be kids with my brother and I, who would climb around in Annie, that was always fun.”
With an open mind, VanDercar created the dragon out of steel and concrete and weighed 20 tons. The dragon stood 35 feet tall and 65 feet long in her originally constructed day.
“Lewis VanDercar had a dream about building a Dragon where two rivers meet,” Moolhuizen said. “That is how it ended up between the Banana and the Indian River.”
The dragon was later designed to produce fire through the nostrils of the beast, lighting up every Independence Day an special occasions. “I would love to see her built back up not only for the older people, but for the people who didn’t get to play on Annie [and] who didn’t get to see her light up at night,” Christine said.
Annie used to be a landmark for boaters and a remarkable sight that could be seen from the Eau Gallie Causeway, a bridge that connects beachside and mainland, but is now just a sad reminder as she lays in ruins.
Save Dragon Point has put on a variety of events, including an annual dragon fest, where all proceeds are collected to help raise money in order to purchase the land Annie was originally built on, but the process has been slow.
“The biggest challenge to date is to raise money. The support is there, people wise, but donations are slow,” Moolhuizen said.
The Save Dragon Point members have not been the first group wanting to rebuild the dragon, in 2004; the landmark was to be rebuilt almost immediately after its demise. In 2008, however, plans for a luxury hotel and spa were also discussed; both plans fell through.
“There have been other attempts [to rebuild Annie] that have failed, so people are apprehensive about donating with out a signed contract,” Moolhuizen said.
The team of locals is currently making structural plans and preparing for when monetary contributions are at a place to make progress with the reconstruction. The group has been passionate about bringing the significance and the wow factor back to the point.
“It is important to retain those things that are part of your heritage history, DNA,” Moolhuizen said. “Many people and generations have grown up with Annie and future generations should be able to visually see the things parents and grandparents talk about. It gives one a feeling of belonging.”