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Bear sculpture comes to life near Golf Shop

Ed Waraner’s latest creation graces Creekside

By Mike Wood

Staff writer

(Friday, Aug. 5, 2022): There’s a new bear in town, ready to greet golfers and other residents in one of Rossmoor’s busiest and most prominent locales.

It’s the latest creation of Ed Waraner, owner of Waraner Brothers Tree Service. Waraner is known for his unique artwork of bears throughout Rossmoor.

“It’s funny … it’s something I kind of worked into,” Waraner said. “It’s a hobby.”

This impressive sculpture is at the well-traveled corner between the edge of the Golf Shop building and a Creekside Grill side door, facing the driving range.

News photo by Dan Rosenstrauch
Ed Waraner, owner of Waraner Brothers Tree Service, puts the finishing touches on a bear sculpture he’s carved near the Golf Shop.

Waraner has been carving the bear from the remains of a towering Redwood tree that succumbed to disease brought on by the drought.

“For people it can be traumatic when you lose a tree,” Waraner said. “So, to have something you can look at, it’s nice.”

Waraner began working on the bear sculpture this spring, chipping away on Mondays when the golf courses are closed. He’s aiming to have the bear completed this month. As the sculpting and surrounding landscaping that includes a small bridge and putting green take shape, the area has already become a popular spot for residents to stop by and take a photo.

“I think it will become a place for golfers and non-golfers alike to get a chuckle and a photo op,” Director of Golf Mark Heptig said. “A very fun way to welcome people to the golf facility and the Creekside Grill.”

The project has been a collaborative effort, sparked by a chain reaction of creative ideas. The notion for a bear carving at the spot came from Landscape Field Supervisor Eddy Ibarra after the tree was cut down last year.

“It’s nice to do something positive, because it’s a shame and so sad to lose such beautiful big trees,” Ibarra said.

Heptig came up with modeling the carving on a golfing bear statue in the Golf Shop.

“It was donated by Nancy Moschel a while ago,” Heptig said. “Then things just snowballed with ideas. The addition of the bridge and putting green make it so special.”

Ibarra designed the landscaping that surrounds the sculpture, which is being installed by Landscape Foreman Pedro Carrillo. A dry creek bed with a small bridge is based on designs he made, which can be seen from the Creekside Grill dining room.

There are golf trappings around the bear – a flagstick and a hole surrounded by artificial turf. Icy blue Podocarpus, lantana and lomandra are being added, with more to come in the fall when weather is more suitable for planting, Ibarra said.

Redwoods are easiest to carve because they are so soft, Waraner said. However, there’s an element of danger, given the crafting is done with chainsaws.

“It’s probably the most dangerous thing you can do with a chainsaw, because you are using the tip of the saw in a lot of it,” Waraner said. “And that’s what you don’t want to do with a chainsaw.”

A certified arborist, Waraner has been in the tree business since 1980 and has been a mainstay in Rossmoor since 1994. His carving began about 25 years ago as an experiment carving some gargoyles for Halloween. A few years after that, his first Rossmoor creation was a lunging mountain lion, though that rotted out over time.

Over the years, he’s made bear sculptures that can been seen by The Waterford and Sportsmen’s Park, among other locations. Earlier this year, Waraner completed a bear sculpture in the walkway to Dollar Clubhouse near the parking lot, made from a treasured 150-year-old live oak that was diseased.

Waraner’s bears hold a special place in Rossmoor, but he has other animals in his carving repertoire. Around Contra Costa County, he’s created eagles, dolphins and frogs. There are over a dozen carvings of his around Clayton, where he lives.

“I’ve got an owl at the library,” he said. “At Mitchell Canyon, they have a little bear.”

And now, Rossmoor golfers have their own golfing bear.