Dianna Wray

You Know What They Say: Big Boots ... Um ... Big Tex!

Two months after Big Tex's well-documented wardrobe change, the big guy arrived back at Fair Park this morning, three days before the opening of the State Fair of Texas. He’s been “gently aged” -- meaning, Tex now has a few more laugh lines -- and touched up elsewhere, courtesy muralist Jer Giles.

Before the morning's installation, Big Tex lay sprawled across the ground, a sheet draped across his body; all you could see were his newly painted eyes and hands. It was a little gruesome, as he looked more like a giant-sized murder victim than the world's largest meet-and-greeter. But, amazingly, his annual erection -- wait, that does not sound right -- draws a fair amount of onlookers, most of whom took off work and otherwise rearranged their schedules to see Tex get his boots on.

Dianna Wray

As you can see, he now bears a strikingly close resemblance to the man with the yellow hat from Curious George, courtesy his yellow shirt with the Dickies logo emblazoned on the pocket. In another changeYet again, Big Tex is ringed by an expansive set of miniature trains, and it'll be up to John Hendricks, a man with a gray beard and a cowboy hat, to make sure they're running throughout the Fair.

Kaye Thibodeax has been at every opening for the past 21 years, bringing her daughter and a swarm of family children to watch. And with good reason: Her husband Tim is among those charged with getting Big Tex to stand to attention.

The whole affair was cute and folksy, right down to the group of preschoolers selected to pull the cover off of Big Tex before his big moment. And for some, the moment proved a welcome break from bigger problems: Houston's Shelly Jano, a Dallas native and Hurricane Ike evacuee, wouldn't normally have attended, but she's staying with relatives until she gets the lights back on down in Houston. She brought her kids to keep them busy, and one of the boys -- Colton recounted a story he’d read about a disaster at the Fair that ended with Big Tex encased in a tutu made of cotton candy.

Billy Johnson actually took the day off to see Tex unveiled. He’s worked as a parking supervisor at the park for 31 years and, till this morning, had never seen the Big Tex show. --Dianna Wray

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