Bear And Panther Now At Wekiwa Springs State Park Awaiting Public Display
The eight-foot black bear carving was delivered by chain-saw carver, Mark Rice, on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The carving of the five-foot tall Florida State Parks panther logo had been picked up by OPS Ranger Phil Card three weeks prior after payment had been made wholly with funds raised here at Go Fund Me Charity. Thank you!!
The owner of Travel Country Outfitters in Altamonte Springs (travelcountry.com; 1101 East Altamonte Drive), who has supported the park and Wekiva Wilderness Trust for decades, came through with the monies needed to pay for the bear. The bear will join the logo sign, which will soon be mounted in front of the ranger station with the name of our park engraved in big bold letters just below the Florida panther logo. They're both beautiful and will provide visitors a warm welcome to our world-renown springs and park.
Thank you to all of the wonderful folks who helped us meet our goal. While we didn't get to celebrate the arrival of the two carvings during the park's 50th anniversary due to the pandemic, the two carvings, now symbols of strength, will be with us for at least the next 50 years.
Thank you, patrons of our wonderful oasis in the middle of the city, for making it possible for thousands of future visitors to interact and take pictures with our two new friends at Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Wekiwa Springs State Park will soon mark its 50th anniversary on July 1. In honor of that achievement and in a nod to all our community has weathered, we are raising funds to erect carved statues of a bear and panther to welcome park visitors.
We recognize the pandemic’s toll on life, health and finances. But for those able to help this cause, we expect these statues will captivate not only today’s guests but visitors for generations to come.
If we can raise $3,900, we can erect a four-foot tall Florida panther – the emblem of Florida State Parks – and an eight-foot tall Florida black bear. Both will be hand carved from Central Florida cypress by Chainsaw Carver Mark Rice at Chainsaw Designs. Mark’s sculptures are at parks and tourist destinations throughout Central Florida. His work can be viewed on Facebook: Mark W. Rice.
Wekiwa’s anniversary marks 50 years of milestones: the addition of campgrounds, a nature center, 13.5 miles of trails, a full concession and grill offering canoe/kayak rentals; as well as what the park and community have endured together -- numerous storms that toppled hundreds of trees and closed the park for weeks at a time, the amount of prescribed fires needed to manage the wildlands, the extra traffic congestion created by nearly 500,000 annual visitors and now a global pandemic.
The Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the volunteer 501c3 non-profit that supports the park, is raising the tax-deductible donations. We need to raise $3,900 by the 31st of July for the 50th anniversary. Donations of any size are welcome. Individual and corporate contributions of $500 or more will receive a personalized plaque noting one's participation as a major contributor in the Wekiwa Springs State Park Fiftieth Anniversary - Raise A Panther and A Bear Campaign.