The design was conceived by former Primavera parents, Bret Blevins and Barnabas Kane, at the urging of Carol Darrow, Primavera’s Director.
On a cold and snowy Sunday morning in March, 1998, work began on the Dragon project. The footers were dug and the foundation was poured. Next came the process of forming the shape of the dragon with rebar.
Next, wire lathe was hand-tied around all the rebar, and the Dragon began to take shape. Concrete “mud” was spread by hand all over the dragon and then the forms were filled with yards and yards of concrete.
Two time capsules were placed in the “Dragon,” one in the head and one in the tail. They contained articles about Bill, remembrances from people, and tokens of Magic Bill from the children. Then the scales were sculpted, and “jewels” (glass blobs) were added to make the Dragon sparkle. Bill’s parents, Joan and Ray Wielgos from Chicago, came to watch the process and donated the stainless steel “Magic Ball” for the Dragon to hold.
This project was headed up by Don Routson, a local concrete contractor and artist. Primavera parents, friends of Bill, and other community members assembled every weekend and even some weekdays until the dragon was completely finished on June 3, 1998. At that time a potluck gathering was held to celebrate the completion of the Dragon. Finally, the kids were able to climb and play on “Bill’s Dragon!”
Bill’s Dragon is a reality thanks to the generous spirit of the Prescott Community and to the incredible talents and volunteerism of our friends and parents who unselfishly gave their time and love to build this Dragon in memory of our beloved, Bill.
Update: July, 2013: Don Routson was able to refurbish our beloved dragon and restore him to perfection! Thank you, Don!
The Dragon Story
When Bill was on the playground, playing his violin and leading the children in search of “leprechaun drops” or dragons, he was doing what he loved the most–making a difference in a child’s life and showing them how to feel good about themselves.
Bill Wielgos was born on March 14, 1965 and died at age 32 on December 21, 1997.
He and his friend were returning from a show in Phoenix when he was hit by a drunk driver and killed.
Bill taught in the after school program at Primavera School for six years. Bill had an incredible gift of centering on children and making each one feel like the only child in the world. Children were mesmerized by him, as if sensing his gentle, caring magic.
Bill was very child-like himself and brought magic into the lives of many people. He loved to pull quarters or candy out of children’s ears, and then lead them on a dragon quest or searching out buried treasure in every corner of the playground. He made balloon animals and rescued all sorts of real animals, always teaching the children respect for all living things.
When Bill’s life ended so tragically, the Primavera community came together and built a 20-foot long concrete dragon on Primavera’s playground to remember his spirit. His legend lives on, with glass eyes, outstretched wings to “hug” and “shelter” the children, glass jewels embedded in the scales, and a magic crystal ball for children to work their own magic.