PEKIN — The artistic display of patriotism that now graces Pam Hacker’s front yard at 901 Eisenhower Dr. came courtesy of a recent decision that three maple trees on the property were one too many.
"There were so many seed packets (from the tree) that fell all over, and we’ve got two more trees that do that," said Hacker. "We wanted to cut down the tree, but we didn’t want to lose it all."
Hacker was fortunate enough to have a prominent professional wood carver among her Facebook friends.
In 26 years as a professional carver, Randall Head’s passion for his craft has earned him the nickname "Termite." He participated in the carving of the world’s largest sculpture of Bigfoot during the chainsaw carving event Chaptacular in Clay, Ga., and he has carved the world’s largest long-powered duck call, which is on display at the Rich-N-Tone Duck Call Store in Stuttgart, Ark. The official world record entry for the duck call is still pending.
Head is currently based in Mountain View, Ark., but has not forgotten his central Illinois roots.
"I was born and raised in Tremont, so I’m a local boy," said Head.
Head added that Hacker’s request to create art from the superfluous maple tree was not an unusual one. He has taken many requests from people who wanted to turn fallen, dead, or storm-damaged trees into sculptures. His project at the Hacker home is not his first commission in Pekin.
"He did a carving on Schramm Drive that everybody’s been talking about," said Hacker. "I love his work."
While his local roots played a role in Head’s choice to tackle another local project, what particularly appealed to him was the highly patriotic nature of Hacker’s artistic vision.
"They wanted me to do this fantastic sculpture to show some appreciation and American pride," said Head. "It’s a huge honor for me to be asked to do a piece like this. That’s why I came all the way up here."
Head began work over the weekend and finished Wednesday. The completed sculpture depicts a pair of bald eagles perched atop a post draped in the U.S. flag. A fallen soldier memorial is carved in the front of the sculpture to honor past and present military veterans. The memorial is a tribute to Hacker’s husband Darrin’s pride in his service in the U.S. Army and the family’s appreciation of those who serve in or have served in the Armed Forces.
"A appreciate (Head) coming up here and doing his famous art," said Hacker. "He’s done great work, and it’s something that all of our neighbors will enjoy."
Head recalls being interested in wood carving at a very young age and taking it up seriously at the age of 18. While he finds it satisfying that he has been able to make a profession and earn a measure of fame out of something he has always enjoyed, his greatest pleasure seems to have been the opportunities he has had to meet people like the Hackers.
"It has opened doors and windows for me to travel and meet people," he stated. "The customers, the clients, the friends and family I’ve had along the way are the biggest blessing of all."
Hacker said that while Head is being paid for his work, she did not wish to divulge the amount.
"That’s between him and his art," she added.