The Kaskaskia dragon continues to bring magic to the Vandalia community


VANDALIA, Ill. (WAND)- Road side attractions aren't as common as they use to be, but one road side attraction Vandalia is keeping more than old traditions alive.

 "The first time I met it, it was in a parade. Walt had brought it to a parade and I thought wow what a neat idea,” says Ricky J. Gottman the mayor of Vandalia. “I didn't realize it would ever bring the amount of tourism to our community that it has."

When we think of dragons we usually don't think about seeing one in person. While the Kaskaskia dragon can't fly and doesn't have scales, the metal monster has brought a lot of magic to the Vandalia community.

"It was December, a cold December and one of the workers names Paul Schabb, he asked me if he could build a dragon,” says Walt Barenfanger who owns a hardware store close to the dragon. “So, I said have at it you know. We built the dragon from our scrap material that we had laying around the shop.”

The dragon can be seen from off the Interstate 70, which is traveled frequently by people headed to St. Louis. However, people don't know that the dragon breaths fire. The attractions flaming breath is one of the reason people enjoy visiting it so much.

"It amazes me to see how many out of state vehicles are parked here looking at the dragon, and actually letting the dragon do its thing," Mayor Gottman.

"It was just a fluke that we built it,” says Walt. “So, it sat around for a little while then we decided maybe it would be good if we put it in the Halloween parade.”

For a while people could only see the dragon in the Halloween parade. Now, anyone who walks by Walt's hardware store can enjoy it. 

"It's always nice to see the kids they get excited you know,” says Walt. “It's great when you can see a kid jump up and down when it breaths fire. I always tell them to make a wish, and that your wish will come true when it breaths fire."

The experience is what brings thousands or tourist the Vandalia community each year.

"It makes me proud for the community, it makes me proud for the citizens of the community that I represent,” stated Mayor Gottman. “Not only does it make me proud, it also makes my heart beat for all the citizens, and all the people in the world that can come to us and see what is happening in our community."

"It's a little oddity,” added Walt. “Life is all about different little things, and this is just one different little thing."

If you are interested in visiting the Kaskaskia Dragon you can find out more by clicking here.

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