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Another look at 'the world's largest gator'

Remember "Gator in the Bay"? Pieces of giant art sculpture on display at @EvergladesNPS.

Lloyd Goradesky's alligator, the football-field-size reptile that turned heads when it floated off the coasts of Fort Lauderdale and Miami , has come crawling back to South Florida.

Remnants of the 33,000-pound steel sculpture that debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach are featured in a gallery exhibition opening Saturday, Aug. 1, at Everglades National Park in Homestead.

The gator itself is gone, taken apart in 2013 after the sculpture sailed into the New River and the Miami Yacht Club on a self-propelled barge. But at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, visitors can touch artifacts, view wall text and watch videos about Goradesky's custom-built attraction, part of the park's 99th anniversary celebration of the National Parks Service.

"It was the world's largest gator," says Goradesky, of Hollywood. "To be able to actual to touch a real part of the gator's body, the tiles that were used, you get to see the scope of how big things really were."

A behind-the-scenes video in the gallery will trace every design phase of the gator, which took four years and $1 million to build. The "jaws" of the gator's head cranked open and shut using hydraulic lifts and crane booms. Goradesky crafted the "teeth" from junkyard materials, include trailer siding. Greenhouse shade cloth became the gator's "skin." Nearly two dozen people helped weld the steel together in time to debut the gator head during the 2012 Art Basel.

The following year, Goradesky's gator grew a spine. The "body," which is composed of 104 foam "floating art tiles," is a mosaic of thousands of photos he took of birds and animals around the Everglades. Two of the 4-by-8-foot tiles will go on display in the gallery, he says, as will the gator's teeth and skin.

"I wanted to do something that was reflective of my hometown," Goradesky says. "We floated the gator in protected coastal waters and used recycled materials not just to raise awareness for the Florida Everglades but to show the cooperation between industry and nature, and to understand the value of what nature provides us as a culture."

A reception for Lloyd Goradesky's gallery show will run 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at Ernest Coe Visitor Center at Everglades National Park, 40001 State Highway 9336, in Homestead. Admission is free. The exhibit will close Aug. 31. Call 305-915-2691 or go to GatorInTheBay.com.

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