A week ago, its magnificence won Marc Tachell, of Everett, the silver medal in the full-beard category at a national contest in New Orleans.
"My beard has been a permanent fixture for years," said Tachell, a Boeing tool engineer. "That's how some people recognize me.
"I get a lot of double-takes. Conservative folks will stop dead in their tracks when they see me. The rednecks want to know who I am trying to be and the more liberal crowd just tells me it's cool."
With sunglasses and a hat, Tachell, 61, often is compared to the bearded men of blues band ZZ Top. That's fine, he said, but just to be clear, Tachell is not a follower of "Duck Dynasty," a reality TV show whose characters also have lots of facial hair.
He's just a guy who, over the years, has been encouraged by various girlfriends to grow -- and grow -- that beard.
When he was a young man, Tachell's whiskers were short and red. With fair skin inherited from his Danish mother, the beard helped protect his face.
The Mountlake Terrace native and 1970 graduate of Woodway High School served two years in the Marine Corps before becoming a boilermaker in Fremont, Calif. He worked his way up to welder and foreman.
"Then the metal trade got hosed by Reaganomics," Tachell said. "I was glad to move back home and get a job with Boeing."
Tachell, employed with the aerospace company for 21 years, designs tools for the construction of airplane wings.
His boss, Mark Hotton, says Tachell is a hard worker and well-known around the Everett plant and in the community.
"He's easy to find in a crowd," Hotton said. "That beard's an attention-getter, that's for sure."
As a hobby, Tachell also runs a website, EverettRock.com, which since 2009 has been dedicated to helping its followers find live music in Snohomish County.
His boss, Hotton, a member of the band Boom Town, said Tachell offers a service appreciated in Everett.
Known by thousands of bands and the owners of hundreds of performance venues, Tachell is a frequent patron at music shows throughout the region. Everett Rock also has a Facebook page and YouTube recordings of many of his favorite local bands.
"I'll show up someplace and from the stage they'll announce that 'Everett Rock is in the house.' It's nice to be known for what I do for free."
The beard is part of the persona, Tachell admits.
It grows less than an inch a month. Once a year, Tachell trims off about five inches, just to keep it looking full.
The care regimen for the beard, much less than for his balding head, includes the periodic use of an expensive organic conditioner and a careful, three-minute blow-dry technique that keeps it straight and silky. He runs a hair pic through the beard, followed by a careful combing.
"A lot of girls want to touch it," Tachell said. "Heck, some guys even want to touch it. I just tell 'em, 'Sure, go ahead.' My girlfriend, Jodi, is fine with it."
Jodi Brady, 49, says she also encourages people to feel the beard.
Brady accompanied Tachell to the Just for Men National Beard and Moustache Championships in New Orleans last week. The event included a parade of bearded and mustachioed men down Bourbon Street in the French quarter, with a marching jazz band leading the way.
"I had so much fun, I was crying," Brady said. "I am so proud of Marc and his awesome beard."
Tachell began entering beard competitions a few years ago. In the spring, he won first place in the northwest regional beard competition and also was named the crowd favorite.
"I am not flamboyant like some of the guys who compete," Tachell said. "They pose and strut around the stage. I just stand there. The only thing I do special in competition is wear a dark shirt so the beard stands out."
Tachell plans to compete again next year in the national championships, to be held in Portland.
"Oh, yeah, I'm going to try again to win this thing," Tachell said. "I might even grow out my mustache a little bit to go with the beard. I've always kept the mustache short, for eating and kissing, but I think I can make it look good a little longer."
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.
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