It’s not every day that you see a kangaroo, its joey in pocket, traveling down a main road in Palm Beach County.
But that’s where I found myself on a recent weekday afternoon: Sitting at the intersection of Lyons and Lake Worth roads, watching a roughly 15-foot-tall kangaroo statue make its way west.
I did what any reasonable person would do: I turned my husband Peter and said, “Follow that kangaroo.”
Then I turned around to Casey, our 4-year-old son, who was in the backseat. We had just picked him up from a day of school.
“Hey kiddo,” I said. “You want to follow a kangaroo?”
“Yes,” he said, excited.
The kangaroo sat on a trailer that was pulled by a white pickup. I decided that if we could catch up to them, I would give my business card to the truck’s driver and tell them I wanted to tell their kangaroo’s story.
Sounds easy, right?
We followed the truck and its Australian-themed cargo west through a light drizzle down Lake Worth Road, then south on State Road 7. We briefly lost them when they went through the light at Lantana Road ahead of us, and we got stuck at the red light.
I should clarify that when I say “lost them,” I’m using that term lightly. It’s a straight shot down State Road 7 from there, and there wasn’t much traffic. We could see the massive kangaroo shrinking toward the horizon, getting smaller and smaller as she drove away from us.
Thank God the light at Lantana and State Road 7 is short for east-west traffic. We quickly caught up to the pickup, which turned right to go west on Heritage Farms Road.
We lost sight of them for good a few minutes later when a black minivan pulled in front of us and they turned down a dirt road.
But I wasn’t finished.
I was totally fascinated by the kangaroo statue. She was adorable. Her big eyes were friendly, and she had a slight smile. The shading and detailing on the mama and her little joey was incredibly detailed, down to the little creases on the inside of her elbow.
I had to know more.
This might be the first time I’ve ever said this but: Thank God for Facebook.
I posted the photo above, of the kangaroo on the trailer driving along Lake Worth Road. “Alright friends,” I said. “Who knows about this kangaroo statue? I need to know what’s up.”
Within minutes, friends commented that a person had posted in the Mom’s Club of Wellington Facebook group in October asking if someone wanted to buy this kangaroo.
A friend tagged that person: Heather O’Rourke. Her father had the kangaroo, O’Rourke said. And he’d love to talk about it.
That was great, because I had so many questions.
A couple of days later, I talked with Mark Metzler, the kangaroo’s purveyor. He was behind the wheel of the white pickup that towed the kangaroo when I saw it.
“Thanks to you, I am Facebook famous,” he said, laughing.
Then he asked if I followed him in a black minivan. I laughed.
“No,” I said. “But I was behind the black minivan, following you in a white sedan.”
Thank God he has a sense of humor.
Metzler paid about $1,000 for the kangaroo a year ago, he said. He bought it at auction.
In a past life, the kangaroo and her joey stood in front of Kanga Kare Early Learning Center in suburban Boynton Beach, in the Fountains of Boynton shopping plaza on the northwest corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and Jog Road. The joey held a book at the time. That is long since gone. Kanga Kare also is gone, replaced by a location of the daycare chain O2B Kids.
“He had made it because he had a daycare and he was Australian,” Metzler said. “He had it made, and put it in front of their daycare, and it sat there for years.”
Metzler put the kangaroo in storage for a few months, and most recently lent it to his friend to have in front of his business, Stuart MotorSports on U.S. 1 south of downtown Stuart. Metzler and his kangaroo cargo were on the way home to his property west of State Road 7 when I spotted them.
I laughed when I looked up the address for Stuart MotorSports. In a Google Street View image from April, there’s the kangaroo, on her little trailer, watching the world go by.
The kangaroo won’t be around Palm Beach County for very long. Metzler plans to move her very soon — if not already, by the time I post this — to his home on Lake Murray in South Carolina.
There she and her joey will join another curious statue along the lakefront behind Metzler’s home.
He has a shark, as well.
“Boats go by all day long saying, ‘Look at the shark! Look at the shark!'” he said.
A quick feature in the Lake Murray News from last June noted the shark “was sighted lurking” near Metzler’s home. It credits Mayson Andrews, O’Rourke’s son, with first spotting the shark, which was “shaking its tail as if to say ‘hello.'”
The family named the shark Bruce, after the shark from the Disney Pixar animated film “Finding Nemo.”
The kangaroo will join Bruce to delight passing boaters.
I asked Metzler why he collects the large statues. He also has a few dolphins, he said.
“I’m a pack rat,” he said, laughing. “I like weird shit. I like stuff that not everybody has.”
Metzler is downsizing his collection — which includes antique cars and old motorcycles — and moving full-time to South Carolina.
He is definitely a character. At one point, I asked him if he was retired or still working.
“I was retired for nine days, and they were the worst nine days of my life,” he said.
He’s a handyman, buys and sells unique items, and invests in real estate, he said.
“I’m just running, running, running, running,” Metzler said.
With the shark named Bruce, I asked Metzler if the kangaroo mom and baby had names.
“No, actually,” he said. “Why don’t you name them?”
Put on the spot, it took me a minute. I asked him if I could think about it and text him later.
He agreed. Which gave me time to think of some very Australian names for these very large critters.
I hope South Carolina enjoys Sheila and her baby, Dundee.
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