Newcomers to Duvall frequently ask, “What’s the deal with the giraffes?”
Should they be a Thing? It’s debatable. When I recently polled the Duvall Community Discussion Board for words to include in a glossary of Duvall-related terms, reactions were mixed.
Several people called for the inclusion of giraffes in the glossary. Others openly mocked the Duvall Giraffe hype, calling it stupid and blaming its existence on “transplants”. Transplants vs. Old Timers remains a fertile field of debate that I will explore in a later post. From what I can tell, you need to have lived in the valley for at least 93 years before people stop gently ribbing you about being an outsider. I will keep you informed.
I’ve lived here for 11 years. So, in Duvall Old Timer culture, I’m basically an annoying cousin camped out on the city’s couch because I ran out of gas on my way to Bothell. They’re not sure how long I’ll be here and they certainly wouldn’t call the arrangement permanent. So, what do I know about Duvall?
Honestly, not that much. However, I moved here before the giraffes so I believe I have a handle on the basic story behind their popularity.
And it’s a story that doesn’t even take place in Duvall.
To tell this story, we’re going to need to travel into unincorporated King County. Hold on to your tractors, Old Timers. It’s a bumpy ride.
In early 2012 King County announced a massive project to create a wildlife bridge across Novelty Hill Road in the Redmond Ridge area. The area experienced frequent animal-vehicle collisions and the bridge would attempt to reduce those by re-routing animals over the road, rather than across it.
Remember the Wolves-Only Roadway from The West Wing? It was like that.
Reactions to this project were decidedly mixed and people passionately spoke out either for or against the overpass. King County held meetings, attended by members of Duvall and other communities, and then decided to go ahead with what they planned to do in the first place. The project was paid for with federal grants totaling nearly six million dollars.
Drama on the Discussion Board
In a shocking turn of events, conversations got heated on the Duvall Community Discussion Board. Gasp. Before long, sarcasm was employed, and eventually it led to a crap-storm of memes. What were the memes about?
**The original giraffe/bridge photoshop creation came from Jeremiah Judd, according to the Duvall Historical Society. You can view the image at that link. More information can also be found here. Thanks, Bairavi!**
You see, human people were upset that King County was spending so much money on a project to build Animal Roads, when the People Roads in and out of Duvall left so much to be desired. Why should we spend millions of dollars to improve the commute of the deer and the bears and the freakin’ giraffes when my human commute sucks river rocks?
The counter to that was, of course, we are improving People Roads by stopping all the animals from throwing themselves in front of your cars and causing accidents.
As people joked about the need to build the bridge to protect ALL the creatures of the earth, the image of giraffes crossing the bridge along with local species captured the imaginations of the citizens of Duvall.
And the meme storm began.
Even the Duvall Police Department got in on the fun. (They generally bring the fun, so it’s not that big of a surprise.) You can always count on the Duvall Police Department to have a quality photoshopped giraffe picture ready to deploy on Facebook.
Giraffe bumper stickers, signs, and t-shirts began popping up around town. And as each year goes by, giraffes become more and more of an integral part of our community. Love them or hate them, they’re here to stay.
At the Riverview Education Foundation auction last weekend, they held a massive rock-paper-scissors competition with all the attendees. It was epic. It was hard fought. It was probably a game invented by a transplant. The prize was a Duvall Giraffe.
A few fun facts:
Three years ago, Jeremiah Judd started a petition to make the giraffe the official mascot of our fair city. He delivered the petition to the city but, as far as I can tell, no official action was ever taken.
Giraffes have been in the Duvall public consciousness for a while now. The first mention I find of giraffes and Duvall is at a city council meeting in 2010, when giraffes were given to staff and city council members as a thank-you gift for “sticking their necks out” working on the Main Street Reconstruction Project.
Whenever we talk about giraffes, I think about this SNL sketch.
A band called Giraffe Tongue Orchestra has a lead singer named William Duvall. You can learn all about them when you Bing “Duvall Giraffes”.
As always, if you find any inaccuracies in this post, please tell me in the comments. I love learning about our town.
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