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Mysterious miniature doors become game for Zephyrhills residents

At first, Jen Wead had no idea what it was.

She found it May 22 outside her business, Rose Cafe and Catering in Zephyrhills, a full door in miniature, tall as a cigarette box and intricately decorated: tiny doorknob, tiny knocker, tiny green panels, tiny decorative frame, tiny bench, tiny garden, a couple of tiny keys.

Wead left it alone at first. But her daughter Mia realized what it was — Tiny Door No. 1. Two local artists, appropriately calling themselves Tiny Doors Zephyrhills, had started setting up the miniature installations in easily accessible places around town.

Nobody knows who the artists are.

"I really want to stay focused on this great community rather than a couple individuals," one of them said Friday in an interview via Facebook message, typing as the other drove to the place they would strike next.

The project is modeled on a similar one in Atlanta. When a new door goes up, so does a photo on the project's Facebook and Instagram pages. Whoever figures out where the door is first gets a tiny key as a prize to keep. Jen and Mia Wead got the first.

Betty Kennedy, who directs Main Street Zephyrhills, said people have asked her how to get a tiny door of their own. She's not involved in the project and doesn't know who's behind it, but she said she tries to spread the word whenever a new door appears.

"We're having a blast in Zephyrhills with it," she said.

So are the artists.

"We love being the tiny doors people," said one of them. "Our goal is to draw attention to our great town and give our friends & neighbors a fun, free activity. So far, we're succeeding & that feels great."

Here's how they do it: They collect miniature accessories, the kind used in doll houses. They craft the decorations, wait until no one's watching, then put the doors in a public place, complete with figurines of Scooby-Doo's Velma and Daphne and other characters. Flying under the radar requires some careful timing but not a ton of stealth, one of them said.

"We just walk up and do it."

After the installment's in place and the artists have made their escape, the denizens of Zephyrhills add their own touch. When Door No. 3 appeared propped up against a tree, Wead's son Boaz and his friend created an epic battle between Despicable Me minion dolls and Smurfs.

It's become a kind of scavenger hunt for Zephyrhills' kids, Wead said. "We see kids running around Main Street looking around for these little doors," she said.

Door No. 8 appeared on the Facebook page the morning of May 30, attached to some nondescript concrete steps. Wead said she and her customers recognized the spot and "ran like idiots." By lunchtime, the Facebook page had posted a photo of Wead posing with the door.

"And then I had to run back," she said, "because I left the grill on."