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Wooden Lion turns his gaze on Lion’s (Century) Park, thanks to Denny Leak and his chainsaw

Iion at Century Park

by James Jordan, Sumner Newscow — Denny Leak has been working hard on the wooden lion statue at Century Park, formerly known as Lions Park, in Wellington. With the recent storms and colder weather, it may be a month or more before the job is complete, but the lion statue is getting closer and definitely has the lion look. 

Leak said he put a coat of linseed oil on the face and head area so the wood would not turn white when rain comes. He has also painted the eyes green.

“I think it’s really going great,” he said. “I still have work to do on the body.”

Leak was originally going to be paid by the city, but funds have run out, so he will not be getting paid. He had agreed to do the statue for the park board earlier. He does have some expense involved, which is mostly supplies for the saw and materials to put on the wood.

In light of that he has created a Go Fund Me page (CLICK HERE TO DONATE) where people can make donations to the project. Leak said he would donate half of what is received will go to services for children he works with.

Leak has been a child or school psychologist for a long time. He is also known to work with autistic children in a state program. He does things like take the children to a restaurant to learn how to order food, or go to a zoo, or other field trips. The field trips are not paid for by the programs.

He started this project a few weeks ago, and has worked when he had time. The works is done primarily with a chain saw, but Leak uses other tools for detail. He did the eyes with a smaller tool, and twice sanded it off because he was not happy with how it looked.

Denny Leak was originally going to be paid with donations. Now he has set up a Go Fund Me page.

Denny Leak was originally going to be paid by the city of Wellington. Now he has set up a Go Fund Me page.

That has made the eyes deeper though, and it gives the statue more depth, so he is still happy with it. 

The project came about when the city was going to take out a large maple tree. The park board arranged with him to do a statue. He marked the tree as to what should be left, and the city took out the rest of the tree. It is a big older maple tree, which is great for sculpting.

He said he was not sure what to make there, but his wife suggested a lion because it is (or was) the Lion’s’ Club park.

“It is solid maple,” Leak said. “I am real excited because you can really see the maple wood.”

Leak will use oil stain to darken the lion’s mane. The natural maple is a good color for the rest of the body.

He has been carving things out of wood with a chainsaw for years, getting his start years ago clearing trees on his father’s farm in Colorado. His wife suggested making a bear, and he did. That went well, so there were more projects.

At Wellington Lake, near the headquarters, there is a large walleye carved out of cedar, which is also his work.

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