Army Spc. Evan Eaton receives some cool things in his care packages in Iraq.
Beef jerky. Cigars. Playing cards. Power bars. Socks.
“It’s nice to know people are thinking of you,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s good to come home to a city that supports you.”
That support took on a different shape Tuesday, courtesy of his mom, artist and attorney Cecilia Eaton.
Meet “Evan’s Gecko,” a six-foot fiberglass gecko — painted in camouflage, wearing a yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon and holding Old Glory — unveiled at City Hall in a ceremony with the Eatons, Mayor Wayne Poston and Jayne Kocher, GeckoFest 2010 committee chairwoman.
“What a tribute,” Poston said.
Evan Eaton dug his namesake, clinging to the north face of City Hall.
“You don’t see that very often hanging outside the mayor’s office,” said the former Manatee High School student. “To have something like this for veterans means a lot.
“Mom’s an amazing person.”
Inspired by her son’s courage, dedication and service, Cecilia Eaton ordered the gecko template, submitted her camouflage idea to GeckoFest 2010’s committee and the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority decided to sponsor it.
She took 40 hours to sand, prime and paint it.
“For me it was an opportunity to put something out in public to make people aware of what they’re doing over there, fighting and dying.” Eaton said. “It’s nothing you can take lightly. You should always remember, not only for my son, but everyone who served before. It’s easy to forget in our daily lives.
“Hopefully, this will be a constant reminder for everybody who drives by the mayor’s office.”
Evan’s Gecko will remain there until April, then be taken down to be auctioned off with 59 others May 1 at a Riverfront Marriott gala.
“Most geckos won’t be going up until December, but because Evan was home we wanted to get this one up the building,” Kocher said.
Cecilia Eaton’s portion of the proceeds from the camo gecko will go to Manasota Operation Troop Support.
“MOTS is happy to be part of it,” said MOTS vice-chairman Bob Greene at the unveiling. “It’s important every family with someone in the service knows we’re here to help them.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification.