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Dragon Back Home In Oriental's Duck Pond
A Village Landmark Returns To The Water
August 6, 2012

riental’s Duck Pond dragon is back. The dragon’s creator, sculptor Gary Gresko, and a small crew returned the dragon to its home near Oriental’s harbor on Sunday afternoon.

The Year of the Dragon may now continue. Oriental’s Duck Pond dragon was back on its mooring, mid-pond, as of about 2:45 Sunday afternoon. The dragon returned to the water, after a three month retrofit, with rejeuvenated scales and a newly designed keel made of lead and copper. The cosmetic refit makes the dragon sit more proudly; the keel makes it more likely to stay that way and not fall over.

The dragon has called the Duck Pond home since a 2004 launch, surviving hurricanes and nor’easters. But on Mother’s Day weekend, it couldn’t sit upright. As reported here in May, the dragon’s 8-year-old keel had disintegrated. The dragon was brought to Gary Gresko for repairs.

The scene for almost three months: a Duck Pond sans dragon. It was taken out on Mothers’ Day weekend after its keel disintegrated, and it could not remain upright.

In his studio/dragon hospital this summer, Gary rebuilt the keel, making it beefier — it’s a combo of lead and copper — as well as more resistant to barnacles and other beasties that share the Duck Pond with the dragon. He also restored many missing scales — repurposing Yeungling beer bottle green glass — that he says birds picked off the dragon over the past 8 years. In an effort to avoid a repeat of that aviary vandalism, Gary has installed sharp metal sticks that protrude from the dragon in strategic spots such as the top of its head and back.

Sunday, mid-afternoon, Gary pulled up to the Duck Pond with the dragon resting on a cradle and trailer, and within a half hour, the dragon was reunited with its Duck Pond.

The following photos show how that came to be…

Since mid-May, the dragon has been in Gary Gresko’s studio just outside of town. There, it underwent keel reconstruction, scales restoration, paint (note the new yellow feet/claws) among other improvements.
Dragon’s head, port side. It has more pointy bits than it did on its first launching in 2004. In the intervening years, Gary Gresko says birds picked off the glass scales so they could perch more comfortably. To preserve the scales and the dragon’s general appearance, he installed more “sharp pointed things” to thwart the birds.
Liz Ann Taylor unties some of the dragon’s lines that kept it on board the trailer and cradle. Her husband, Gary Gresko, has restored glass dragon scales that had worn off — or were torn off by birds who sat on the dragon during its 8 years in the Duck Pond.
Not necessarily visible from a distance, a closeup of the dragon’s head, starboard side, shows sticks protruding. Gresko put them there to thwart birds from perching. He says the birds wear out the scales, many of which he had to replace in those – more horizontal – spots where the birds would settle.
Gary Gresko and his neighbor Per Erichsen prepare the dragon for its slide in to the water.
In addition to the cosmetic work, Gary Gresko built a beefier keel for the dragon, a mix of lead and copper to keep it upright and serve as antifouling. Dragon, at this angle, seems to puff out its chest even more.
A little coaxing — and pulling — becomes necessary.


The dragon takes in one last unimpeded view of the harbor; usually, the shrubs ringing the Duck Pond prevent that..
Then a push or two, with some help from a passerby.
The dragon’s back end gets wet first.
And then all of it is afloat. But the launch is not yet complete.
Gary Gresko paddles his kayak to tow the dragon to its mooring in the lower central Duck Pond.(Temporary mooring ball can be seen in the water ahead of the kayak.)
Dragon tow.
Then a knot to tie…
… and made secure.
Mooring secured, Gary Gresko takes leave of the Duck Pond dragon.

The dragon’s retrofit was financed in part by a contribution of $200 from the Oriental Parks and Recreation Committee, a matching donation from Jerry Dasson and Mary Beth Connor and other contributions in recent weeks.


Other Stories About the Duck Pond Dragon:

For the May 2012 story, Duck Pond Dragon Out For Repairs, click here.

For the March 2004 story about the dragon being built, click here.

For the May 2004 story about the dragon’s launch in to the Duck Pond, click here.

For view of a bird on the Duck Pond dragon’s back, click here.

For the On The Cover photo of a green heron on the Duck Pond dragon’s snout, click here.

Duck Pond dragon as seen in a 2009 On The Cover photo.

Posted Monday August 6, 2012 by Melinda Penkava

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