Mary Bridge Children's Festival Tree Design Comes To Life

by Karen Lee

Posted on

December 05, 2019

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A little over a month ago, Loren Yaguchi, field operations manager-interior finishes division at Abbott Construction received a concept drawing for a Christmas tree design from Sheldon Arkin, MultiCare's former horticulturist and head groundskeeper. Arkin, who retired last year, has designed trees for the Mary Bridge Children’s Festival of Trees for 30 years. The festival includes dozens of uniquely decorated trees to be auctioned off with all proceeds benefitting care for kids at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

Yaguchi and his Abbott team including Mike Hecox, assistant field operations manager; John Garinger, lead journeyman; Tom Klevgaard, journeyman and Matt Lorbeski, apprentice, immediately got started on the ambitious circus-themed design consisting of a carousel with a seven-foot Christmas tree in the center.

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However, after reviewing the concept drawing, Yaguchi discovered that the construction would involve some design/engineering. So, he called Damon Hespe, project manager at Johansen Mechanical, Inc. (JMI) about the canopy structure. He also reached out to DeWalt to discuss utilizing power stations to address concerns related to powering the lights and other items that were going to rotate on the carousel.

Yaguchi then provided templates and a marked-up drawing from team-Arkin volunteer Pam Brown to JMI to work from. He also met with Ethan Taylor, custom steel fabricator from JMI every morning to go over details as the team was essentially designing as they went along.

The team assembled a mockup of the design, which helped determine the exact height the base platform needed to be in order to house the power supplies and drive motor (the guts to what makes the carousel function). Then they set up the tree platform allowing roughly 24-inches to the base of the tree. Further, knowing there would be a seven-foot tree, Hecox made a placeholder correx tree on the platform helping create the basis of scale for the canopy. 

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The team received the canopy steel just in time to hand it over to Kathy Lewis from Curtains by Design to produce some patterns and play with the design on the actual steel. Also, in keeping with the circus theme, Yaguchi selected the colors for the carousel based on the Nabisco Barnum’s Animals crackers box.

Scott Bennett, senior enterprise medical imaging analyst at MultiCare created the electrical components that makes the carousel go around, a stuffed monkey that waves, a backlit glacier for the penguin display and a meerkat popping out of a hole. Bennett was also instrumental throughout the entire process acting as facilitator during group meetings and coordinating with the design team.  

The flashing lights design on the side of the base platform is from an idea that Abbott project superintendent Tim Beecher found online. Michael Parrish, electrician from Ken Bobko Electric wired the lights and Abbott installed the two DeWalt 1800-Watt power station with eight batteries.

Weighing between 500-600 pounds, the team made sure the carousel could come apart for easy transportation which they were able to do. It was truly a group effort to make it all happen.

During the process, Brown said “You [Loren] and Scott are doing things that were only envisioned in my wildest dreams. You understood the direction and from there you picked it up and ran with it. After 30 years of tree designing, Sheldon is realizing the tree he always wanted.”

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This year the Festival of Trees is open to the public on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 (9:00am-1:00pm) at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, 1500 Broadway, Tacoma, Washington.