When the much-loved Brackett’s Landing wooden Orca sculpture fell over this past March 11, it was pretty much given up for lost.
The Parks Department called in 87-year-old artisan John Hurley, who created the piece in 1994, to help assess the damage. The initial reports were not good.
“The wood is very old and rotted,” said Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Hite at the time. “We’ve consulted with the artist and we all agree it’s beyond rehabilitation.”
The Orca had been removed to the Parks Department service yard, where it was headed for the scrap heap.
But happily, the story doesn’t end here.
Days before the Orca was to make its final trip to the landfill, My Edmonds News broke the story. The Parks Department immediately began receiving emails and calls, some very passionate, from citizens asking if the sculpture could somehow be saved. Hurley was contacted again, and he agreed to give it a try. For the next several weeks Hurley spent many hours assessing damage and making repairs.
Word quickly spread beyond Edmonds, and the story caught the attention of Seattle Times sketch artist Gabriel Campanario, otherwise known as the Seattle Sketcher. Campanario visited Hurley’s shop to see his efforts first hand, and his sketches and report were featured in the Seattle Times. My Edmonds News reported on his visit here
It was not an easy job. According to Parks Department staff, Hurley had to remove more than 30 pounds of rotten wood, replacing it with an estimated 90 pounds of concrete mastic. The piece was then smoothed, shaped, painted, and finally attached to new supports.
Finally on Friday morning, July 17, Parks Department crews reinstalled the Orca at Brackett’s Landing, where park visitors may enjoy it for years to come.
Don’t you just love happy endings!
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel