One of the giant turtles created by the CPTC Welding program on display at the 2018 Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park.
One of the giant turtles created by the CPTC Welding program on display at the 2018 Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park.

Welding Students Create Fantasy Lights Display

December 20, 2018

Holiday lights rank among the most visible traditions on display at this time of year, and Clover Park Technical College’s Welding program joined the festivities by contributing their skills to this year’s Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park.

Organized by Pierce County Parks and Recreation for the past 24 years, Fantasy Lights features nearly 300 displays that include thousands of lights. The drive-through display spans a two-mile stretch along Spanaway Lake and is open from late November through Jan. 1. When it came time to create a pair of giant turtles for the display, Pierce County Parks and Recreation contacted the college.

“The Parks Department reached out and asked if we wanted to participate,” CPTC Welding instructor Justin Agostino said. “They already had the designs for the turtles and asked for assistance with the production. They provided the metal, and it gave our students a great training opportunity.”

The two turtles are part of the event’s underwater scene, and the project provided a group of students with a unique application opportunity for the skills they were gaining in the program. While various students assisted in the production, three students served as key contributors: Daniel Egan, Leonard Fusselman, and Sanders Kreycik. Over the course of two weeks during summer quarter, the students worked in teams of two to bend the metal to match the design.

“We followed a stencil design and did a lot of TIG welding to combine the metal together,” Fusselman said. “It was fun.”

“It was a neat experience to bend the shapes and see everything come together from just a bunch of straight bar into these turtles,” Egan said.

The specific fabrication process was nothing new to the students who had been working on bending and TIG welding, but the size of the turtles presented a challenge.

“Normally our metal forming projects are something we can hold in our hand, not a 12-foot turtle,” Kreycik said. “Just that experience of metal forming, the size, and being able to assemble the various pieces that multiple people bent, and getting it all to come together well, it was a special project.”

The program has assisted with similar displays for past Fantasy Lights events, but not in the past several years. Similar partnership opportunities occasionally arise with other external organizations, and while they have to specifically line up well with the program for it to work out, Agostino said they enjoy taking them on when they can.

 “It provides a good hands-on experience for the students and also contributes to the community,” Agostino said.

Now the participants in the project have a chance to see their creation on display, showcasing their training and the creative versatility that comes with welding skills. To learn more about CPTC’s Welding Technology program, click here.

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The CPTC Welding program created the frames for a pair of giant turtle light displays for the 2018 Fantasy Lights.
CPTC Welding instructor Justin Agostino (left) and student Leonard Fusselman (right) were part of the team that fabricated the two turtles.