Sea Turtle Giant Sculpture

This sea turtles sculpture, created by Sandwich glass artist Michael Magyar and donated anonymously, sits outside the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay.

A pair of giant sea turtles might soon be on permanent display on Main Street, welcoming folks to downtown Buzzards Bay.

No, not the actual, live swimming reptiles. These giant turtles are made of steel and were crafted by artist Michael Magyar of Sandwich. The sculpture is one of Mr. Magyar’s noted “Giants” that are chiefly on display along Route 6A, primarily during the holiday season.

National Marine Life Center executive director and president Kathryn A. Zagzebski said the turtles sculpture was on display at the center late last year and into the early months of this year. Now, she said, the marine life center would like to have it on permanent display.

Ms. Zagzebski addressed the Bourne Design Review Committee during a remote meeting on Tuesday, November 17. She said the sea turtles sculpture was the first of Mr. Magyar’s giants to be displayed in Bourne. Her hope, she said, is that it might lead to more of the colossal sculptures going up around town.

“I think it would be a nice addition to our facility here,” she said, “but also to the Main Street as a whole.”

Mr. Magyar started making his giants in 1998 when he created a huge metal sculpture of a glass blower to advertise his shop, the Glass Studio on Route 6A in East Sandwich. Nearby businesses wanted their own, and the trend spread to other businesses all over town as well as schools, churches and social service agencies.

The creations are a combination of iron rebar and Christmas lights. He said it takes a few days to two weeks to make the metal framework. He works with an image that people bring to him. He does the metal part and leaves the customer to do the lights.

Committee member Marie J. Oliva, chief executive officer and president of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, noted that there are upward of 30 or more of the jumbo structures that are lit up in front of Route 6A businesses throughout the holidays.

“They’re quite eye-catching, unique and beautiful,” she said.

Ms. Zagzebski said the sea turtles giant is 14 feet high and 10 feet wide. Metal stands anchor it to the ground, she said. It would be placed in an area between the marine life center and the new ice cream parlor that has replaced the old Krua Thai restaurant, she said.

She assured the committee that its placement would not impede foot traffic on the sidewalk. It would be outfitted with solar lights that would come on at night and go off during the day, she said. Questions were raised as to whether the center had adequate battery capacity to keep it lit all night. She said people associated with the marine life center are researching to determine the best lights to use.

“They are assuring me that it will be appropriate lighting that will be lasting and that will be bright and will require low maintenance,” she said.

The area proposed for the sculpture has also been designated for upgraded landscaping. Town Planner Coreen V. Moore noted that it is also on town property, so the landscaping plan needs approval from both the Bourne Planning Board and Board of Selectmen.

The landscaping project, Ms. Moore said, originally went before the Cape Cod Commission. Any change to the original plan, such as inclusion of the sea turtles giant, has to go back before them once they have been approved by town officials, she said.

“Usually they go to the Cape Cod Commission first,” she said, “but from what I’m understanding, the Cape Cod Commission wants to get all town approvals [first] and then go back to them.”

She added that approval of permanent display of the sea turtles giant would be necessary from the selectmen because it is proposed for installation on town property.

Design review committee chairman Douglas Shearer pulled the discussion in from debate over the marine life center’s landscaping plans. Mr. Shearer said the design committee’s focus was only on voting yes or no on permanent display of the sculpture.

A motion was made and seconded to approve placement of the sea turtles giant. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

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