Dinosaurs and Dragons Transform Staten Island Home into Fantasy World
STATEN ISLAND — It's a mythical world right in the middle of Staten Island.
A Todt Hill mansion's lawn has been transformed into a mix of the Lost World and Fantasy Island, packed with dinosaurs and dragons, pirates swinging from trees and roaming jungle animals.
Mingling with the ornamental raptors and firebreathers at Alla Shchegol's home are sheep, camels, giraffes — even the more typical garden gnomes and plastic flamingoes.
Shchegol's statue obsession started six years ago when she bought a giraffe from a Florida website. Since then, her grounds have become so packed she doesn't even know how many she has.
And they've turned her Todt Hill Road home into a tourist attraction — her doorbell is constantly ringing with passers-by asking to see her collection.
"I let people come and take pictures," she said. "They usually come with the kids, they put the kids on the horse, on the camel and cow.
"The kids, they love it."
Schegol, who moved to America from the Ukraine in 1979, said she saw the first statue as something that would enhance the front yard of her home.
"We got the first giraffe, then I got some smaller giraffes," she said.
"Then I started to look through each different website, trying to find out the nice stuff. So when I see something nice and new, I usually buy them."
Nearly every foot of her front and back yard has a statue.
The collection got so vast, landscapers started to damage it when they cut the grass. So, last year, she dug up the lawn and replaced it with a synthetic surface.
"It makes it cleaner, plus nobody's breaking the toys," she said.
"It used to be the gardener. It wasn't their fault, it was hard for them to maneuver, but we decided to change it."
Shchegol, whose husband Alex owns ASA The College for Excellence, which gives degrees in criminal justice, computer technology, business administration and health, said her favorite is a dinosaur.
"It has incredible eyes," she said. "And the tongue is sticking out. He's almost like alive."
This year, a large red dragon arrived. Next to come is a hippo.
Fortunately for Shchegol, her husband shares her obsession.
"He loves it," she said. "He doesn't care.
"He said the more the merrier."