June 20, 2012 - When he's not a World War I flying ace battling the dreaded Red Baron atop his Sopwith Camel doghouse or dominating a nightclub dance floor as the energetic Flashbeagle, Snoopy is busy directing kids where to go at Seymour Lake Township Park.
This cute wood carving of Snoopy at Seymour Lake Twp. Park was created with a chainsaw by Assistant Park Supt. Paul Hermanson. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Thanks to the talent and creativity of Assistant Park Superintendent Paul Hermanson, the cartoon beagle with many alter egos, created by the late Charles M. Schulz, has been immortalized as a wood carving situated along a sidewalk linking the Kids Kingdom playground and KLR Splashpad.
Using a chainsaw and his imagination, Hermanson, who's a 1987 Oxford High School graduate, spent six hours turning what used to be a dead red oak tree into a fun work of art.
"After we lost some of these beautiful oak trees, we decided to turn this into something cute for the kids to enjoy," he said. "The diameter of the trunk kind of dictates what you can do. I was going to do either a squirrel or a bear. But then we thought this is kind of the avenue for the little ones, so let's do something fun for them to look at. The kids seem to like it."
Hermanson's been creating chainsaw carvings for the last 10 years.
"I usually do custom orders where I go out to people's houses and carve things (out of tree trunks)," he said. "I carve Indians, horses, bears, eagles. I really enjoy doing things like that."
Believe or not, Hermanson never took any classes to learn this unique skill. He's completely self-taught. Art is just something that's part of his DNA.
"I've been doing artistic things my whole life – clay sculpture, drawings – ever since I was a little guy," he said.
Using a chainsaw to create art is just something Hermanson kind of stumbled into.
"Growing up in Oxford, we always cut down trees on our property. My father, when I was younger, taught me how to operate (a chainsaw)," he explained. "One time, we were up north with some friends and I carved a cowboy at his cabin. That's kind of what started it.
"Now, every year, I do two or three (carvings). I just kind of do it for fun. I charge a little bit of money for the effort, but really, I just love doing it."
When he's not working at the parks or carving, Hermanson operates his own 17-year-old landscape business called Roots Tree Transplanting.
"I do a little bit of everything," he said.
Folks interested in commissioning a wood carving from Hermanson are welcome to call (248) 969-1634.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.