Metro

Another Route 1 icon may go extinct as course closes

Nick the dinosaur at Rt. 1 Miniature Golf.

JOHN BLANDING/Globe Staff

Nick the dinosaur at Rt. 1 Miniature Golf.

SAUGUS — The orange dinosaur has guarded the sixth hole at Route 1 Miniature Golf & Batting Cages since it arrived on the back of a flatbed truck from South Boston 55 years ago.

The 12-foot fiberglass creature has also helped to guide thousands of motorists each day as they maneuver Route 1’s confusing traffic patterns.

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But now the Day-Glo dinosaur soon will be extinct.

The iconic mini golf course will close after 57 years of business, the owners announced Thursday morning.

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The dinosaur is the latest landmark that may fall by the wayside along Route 1 in Saugus. Weylu’s, the lavish Chinese restaurant built high on a hill, was demolished earlier this month. Bulldozers rolled over the Hilltop Steak House in April, though its 68-foot cactus is still standing and will be incorporated into a new residential/retail development proposed for that site.

“There was a time when people used to complain about the cactus and dinosaur and called them all tacky,” said Peter Rossetti, the chairman of the Saugus Planning Board. “Now they all love them. That just goes to show you how times change.”

The fate of the dinosaur is less certain, though Michael Touchette, the Lynnfield developer who purchased Route 1 Miniature Golf & Batting Cages, said he’d be open to keeping the dinosaur on site.

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“We could maybe put a little putting green around it,” Touchette said.

Diana Fay, a second generation owner of the mini golf course, said in a statement the family has an agreement to sell the 3-acre site to Touchette, who plans to incorporate it into a plan to build two hotels, 256 apartments, and space for restaurants and retailers.

The dinosaur — modeled after a Tyrannosaurus rex — along with such other playful fixtures on the course as Humpty Dumpty and a rotating rocket ship, are not included in the sale.

Humpty Dumpty and a stallion will be returned to a cousin who loaned them to Fay five years ago after closing a course in Alton Bay, N.H., Fay said in an interview.

Fay said the wishing well, lion, bowling alley, and treehouse — each on a golf hole named for one of her four grandchildren — will remain with her family.

“I could never part with those,” she said.

As for the other vintage obstacles — including the dinosaur — no decision has been made. “It’s no small feat to remove a stone lighthouse or a metal rocket ship,” Fay said. “Some may end up somewhere else. We just really don’t know yet.”

But it is the fate of the dinosaur that has stirred emotions in Saugus.

“It’s been there for so long,” Joe Attubato, the town’s retired public works director, said at a public meeting on Monday where development plans for the site were presented. “It’s hard to picture Route 1 without the dinosaur.”

A “Throw Back Thank You” event will be held on Oct. 3 to celebrate generations of family fun at the 18-hole course, ice cream stand, and batting cages. The cost of golf will be rolled back to the original 1950s prices of 35 cents for children and 50 cents for adults. The rain date will be Oct. 4.

“While this has always been a family-owned and operated business, every single adult and child who has visited us has become part of our extended family,” said Fay, whose two uncles opened the course in 1958. “We look forward to celebrating with all of our loyal customers.”

Weather permitting, the Fays hope to stay open for general business through early November.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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