After nearly a decade, Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Fla. was once again filled with children, families and supporters to welcome home Kent Hovind, aka Dr. Dino, after his prison sentence for tax-related charges ended earlier this week.
Although the park isn't officially open, and none of its amenities were accessible, Hovind talked to groups of about 30 people every 30 minutes and gave small tours of the facility for his part in the event. He was finally back in his element, and it appeared as though he hadn't missed a beat. He was energetic, funny and in good spirits.
He began talking as he has probably thousands of times, saying that he was a science teacher for 15 years. Then he explained that his Creation Science Evangelism started in a small room, now a converted pantry, just feet away from where the groups sat and listened.
He spoke of a time when he threw a rope over a tree branch and made a swing. A platform was built, the swing became bigger and faster, and all the neighborhood kids couldn't resist its attraction. It was then Hovind thought to pair fun with science, and nearly everything he came in contact with became a lesson.
There's a piece of paper, where he demonstrates lift by blowing on top of the paper. There's his rubber band analogy of the spirit and the body, showing that the spirit side needs to have more tension in order to lead and shoot the rubber band correctly. Then there's the little paper airplane with a hook on the end that, when shot with a large rubber band, travels extremely fast and out of sight. Never missing an opportunity, as he took photos with individuals from the group, he grabbed a blade of the St. Augustine grass and showed the kids how to whistle with it. With all the tricks and stories, he captivated the old and young alike.
Hovind talked little about prison, other than mentioning that he wrote books, pointing out that several people who wrote books of the Bible were also incarcerated. His first was what he called Dear God Letters, later changing it to Knee-Mail, written in Tallahassee (Fla.) Prison in 2007. He also wrote books for his grandchildren.
He's finally able to be a grandfather now. He teamed up this week with one of his grandchildren to fix a door hinge. And apparently, being a grandfather and preaching the Gospel is all he wants to do at the moment. Plans to reopen DAL weren't definite Saturday. In any case, he can't go any further than 150 feet away from a box in his home while he's on home confinement for about a month.
The party was from noon to 8 p.m., and it was a beautiful, sunny and hot Florida afternoon. There was a steady stream of people earlier in the day that dwindled a bit by 4 p.m., which gave Hovind possibly his first break of the day. Tours began again at 5:00. The theme of the day was celebration, and there was certainly a joyous atmosphere. Whether it was coincidence, fate or God's timing, the party landed on the exact day Hovind was indicted for the tax-related charges nine years earlier.
Hundreds had RSVP'd on the party's Facebook page, and it appeared that most of them came. And several of them were from out of town, traveling from North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Alabama, just to name a few places. Some people even traveled from South Africa.
Some people had been fans of Hovind's since the early 1990's when he began his ministry, and others had only known of him for a couple years. But everyone seemed to be equally excited that Hovind was home. Kids were treated to face-painting and playing basketball on a hoop that had a dinosaur- painted backboard.
Hovind was unavailable for comment Saturday.