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Montana-born dragon on its way to children's park in Washington

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Oct 21 2013 07:22:17 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 21 2013 10:14:29 PM MDT

The dragon replaces an older brother, created for the park by the same artist 48 years ago.

Kenton Pies thinks the dragon could be his legacy of a lifetime of work.

PLAINS, Mont. -

A massive but friendly dragon will travel from his birth place in Plains to Mercer Island, Washington, this Thursday.

Kenton Pies' dragon is 50 feet long and 8 feet tall. He's a much awaited addition to Deane's Children's Park -- or Dragon Park.

The dragon replaces an older brother, created for the park by the same artist 48 years ago.

The dragon's job will be to entertain children.

His creator, Kenton Pies, and metal fabricator Derek Von Heeder groom the dragon's steel skeleton so he will be strong for years to come.

Mercer Island city officials wanted a new one.

"The other one was deteriorating," said Pies, "and they were so tickled to find the guy that built the original dragon that they played in.  City officials played on my dragon when they were kids."

So at age 81, Pies was thrilled to create a brand new dragon for the park.

Pies and Von Heeder, who's a metal artist himself, started building the dragon 7 weeks ago.

He's 4,500 pounds of steel.

"The biggest challenge," said Von Heeder, "was the head... to get everything proportioned right."

In Washington the dragon will get a green coat of mixed mortar that will be polished for smoothness.

Kids can enter his open mouth, peer through his nostrils and eyeballs, climb his foot and slide down his tail.

"I can't wait 'til the day I can take my three kids over to this park and have them play on it," said Von Heeder.

In his long career, Pies has been commissioned for many public works all over the country.

The head of his old dragon at Mercer Island will remain as a companion to the newcomer from Montana.

"I've often wondered if I was going to have a legacy on this earth," said Pies, "this may be my legacy."