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Driving home the hippo theme, Hutto is all in with new car

The city said it will use "Sunshine" the car for parades and festivals.

HUTTO, Texas -- If you have been to Hutto, you know the city loves its hippos. It is the school district's mascot, and you will spot more than 3,000 hippo statues around town.

Now, they are adding one more hippo to the list, a hippopotamus car named “Sunshine.”

It is a 2002 Volkswagen Turbo Beetle. John Voeller said he donated it because he is retired and downsizing. He and his wife, Sheila Voeller, live in Kansas City.

“We thought nobody else in the world could take care of Sunshine for a long time,” said John Voeller.

He said his love for hippos began with his wife years ago when they were dating.

“I gave my wife a purple plushy hippo on our second date,” he said. “As soon as we were able to buy additional hippos -- we ended up with about 5,000 of them."

They are part of a group of hippo fans called Hippolotofus who visited Hutto a few years ago.

"Just the whole attitude just impressed us,” he said.

“Sunshine,” the car, was airbrushed by Florida artist Pepper Greer.

The City of Hutto’s affinity for hippos began more than 100 years ago.

Legend has it a circus hippopotamus escaped its railcar in Hutto in 1915.

"And (it) was in Cottonwood Creek,” Eliska Padilla, a spokeswoman with the City of Hutto. “They tried to get the hippo out and they couldn't. And so a telegraph officer sent a message to neighboring towns saying, 'Hippo loose. Stop trains hippo loose in Hutto.'”

Later on, the school adopted the hippo as its mascot.

“We're the only school in the nation that has a hippo -- a fierce hippo,” said Padilla.

The city said it will use “Sunshine” the car for parades and festivals.

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