Giraffes, cobras, zebras, oh my: South Rowan neighborhood becomes a safari

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

By Liz Moomey

KANNAPOLIS — The Archer Ridge Subdivison in southern Rowan County was transformed into a safari Wednesday afternoon.

Homes around the neighborhood displayed one animal or more as part of a neighborhood-wide activity.

At Scott and Kim Swix’s home, they crafted a cobra, letting their creative process roll from a 7-foot vacuum hose and a piece of foam for the head. Jan Gonzales put out displays of a Boston terrier, Shetland pony, hamster and hedgehog. The safari also included a zebra, giraffes, blue birds, a panda, frogs and more. Each animal had a fact sheet included.

Susan Kirk learned from a friend about a neighborhood safari. In about a week, 25 neighbors were on board to turn the community into a safari for an afternoon. She encouraged her neighbors to be as creative as they wanted to be.

“We have a lot of great neighbors,” Kirk said. “I can’t thank them enough for wanting to do this for the children.”

Kirk’s family displayed a giraffe and an alligator with a fact. The giraffe fact was that their hearts are two feet long.

Kirk said the safari mostly was for the neighborhood kids since they are restless and staying at home, but it was something to be enjoyed by all ages. The safari lasted from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to allow neighbors to go through the “safari” at their leisure.

It allowed neighbors to connect while following social distancing and exercising.

Gonzales was excited to participate when Kirk contacted her to craft displays to look and learn about different animals.

Gonzales has two Boston terrier dogs, and she spent six hours to craft a Boston Terrier display, which included photos of her dogs, trading cards for neighbors to take and multiple stuffed Boston terriers. She included facts like “Helen Keller had one named Phiz” and that it was the “first breed developed in America.”

Gonzales said she wanted others to have the same love for the dog she does.

“I hope they will just let their worries go and not think about COVID-19,” Gonzales said. “It’s just going to be a good, fun day.”

Scott Swix said the safari is a way to stay connected during a strange time.

“It’s a phenomenal fun little thing,” he said, adding they stayed within the safety recommendations and included an educational element for the children.

He said things like the neighborhood safari are one of hundreds of little of things over time that make a neighborhood a community and not “individuals that live along the same street.”

Swix went to explore the safari during Kim’s lunch break. She went out later in the day.

The neighbors could select the most creative display and the overall best display. The winners received a cash prize.