York area chain saw artist carves college mascot
Sept. 16, 2010
HARRISBURG – A six-foot hawk has landed on the athletic fields at the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
The fierce bird of prey is perched atop the stump of a 135-year-old pin oak tree, gazing intently at passersby with its talons poised for take off in an instant.
HACC’s mascot is a chain saw carving that evolved Sept. 14 and 15 as Brad Heilman of BDH Custom Chain Saw Carving in Dover went to work on the tree stump. He was contracted by HACC alumni Bob and Alice Finley who wanted to save something of the old tree that had to be taken down because of rot inside. They paid Heilman’s fee as a donation to their alma mater.
Bob Finley, a HACC facilities maintenance employee, left 15 feet of the trunk for the carving but Heilman discovered on the first day that the decay was deeper than anticipated. He had to take off another nine feet to get to solid wood before he was able to do his magic.
Heilman used several sizes of Stihl and Echo chain saws to create the magnificent bird, using small bladed saws to do the detailing on the feathers, eyes and talons.
“It’s awesome,” Finley said, watching Heilman work over two days. Finley was joined by students, faculty and staff who stopped to watch Heilman carving away and take pictures of the mascot as it emerged from the stately trunk. Finley often assured onlookers that the tree had to go because of a safety issue. “The carving is a way to preserve something of the tree while promoting HACC’s mission of sustainability,” Finley said.
“If the tree had to go, it couldn’t have been in a better location than right at the edge of our athletic fields,” he added. “Choosing a hawk was easy, since our athletes are known as the HACC Hawks.”
Finley counted the rings from an upper portion of the tree to determine that it dated back to 1875 when it was an acorn, making the tree at least 135 years old. He marked a slice of the trunk to show the age of the tree during the growth of the campus from 1964 to 2010 for onlookers to see during Heilman’s work.
The next step is to add preservatives to the carving and trunk. Finley estimates the hawk should be guarding the athletic fields for at least a decade.
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