ARLINGTON — If you see a blue-and-neon-green 8-foot 12th Man barreling down the interstate behind a bright yellow truck, you aren’t seeing things.
His name is Ivan and he’s a swiveling, smiling 800-pound chiseled chunk of cedar with a Seahawks jersey and arms raised in victory.
What’s up with that?
Ivan cheers in the driveway when not traveling to a bar or bank or wherever his BFFs Bruce and Molly Walden take him on a whim.
The couple was on a trip to the Washington Coast last summer for Molly’s 83rd birthday when she saw the 12th Man of her dreams in front of Ocean City Market Place near Ocean Shores.
The dude had a mohawk and the biggest tonsils she’d ever seen.
She told Bruce to stop the car. She had to have him.
Bruce was happy to oblige, but he wanted to eat breakfast first, because that’s how 85-year-old men are, no matter how much they love their wives.
Afterward, the couple went to the popular roadside curio shop of bears, eagles and Bigfoots made by multiple artists who wield chain saws.
With a full belly, Bruce was ready to dicker with the seller.
“He wanted $2,500,” Bruce said. “I told him I wasn’t going to pay that much. He said, ‘How much will you pay?’ And I said, ‘Probably, $2,000.’ And he said, ‘No, I couldn’t let him go for $2,000, but maybe $2,100.’ I said, ‘Sold.’ ”
There was one slight problem.
Mr. 12 couldn’t fit in the motorhome, so the couple made it a good problem. They came back with a bigger rig, so Molly got two birthday trips to the coast, 180 miles from home.
He also needed a name.
“I didn’t want to call him 12th Man,” Molly said. “To me, that’s the fans.”
They chose Ivan, after market owner Ivan Haas, a former Arlington resident. On her 80th birthday, Molly got a bench Haas made with a Seahawks logo.
It turns out her 12th Man hails from local stock. It was designed and carved by Whidbey Island chain saw artist Steve Backus, who has been making the humorous characters for years at his studio compound in the woods of Clinton. His wife usually paints the figures, which range from a few feet to a dozen high.
Molly’s birthday 12th Man actually arrived in Ocean City in the buff. A guy named Earl, at Haas’ shop, painted him. So, really, it could have been named Steve or Earl.
Backus said he’s cool with the name Ivan. “As carvers as an industry, we need shops like Ivan’s,” he said.
Backus carved it at a Sedro-Woolley chain saw competition and lugged it around in his truck for a year. Hoping for a buyer, he left it at Haas’ shop last February when in Ocean City for the annual Burning Bears festival hosted by Haas where a clan of carvers burn a 12-foot bear.
They’d never dare burn a 12th Man. “No, no, no, you don’t burn the Seahawks guy,” Haas said.
Back in Arlington, Bruce had workers at his company, Cement Distributors Inc. (CDI), create a swiveling steel mount for Ivan that attaches to the trailer.
“It took the whole crew to get him up on that thing and get our minds wrapped around what Bruce wanted,” CDI employee Julie Smith said. “You only got one shot going down the road. You lose it, you’re in trouble.”
A bungee cord keeps Ivan from swiveling in transit.
Bruce pulls Ivan behind his yellow Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster, a retractable hardtop convertible pickup truck.
“I had to stop at the bank to make a deposit,” Bruce said. “When I pulled up and parked, before I could get inside, everybody at the bank was coming out the front door to look at Ivan and I got halfway into the bank and by that time they were all out here and the bank manager stopped and went back in so there would be someone in there to take care of me.”
That got Bruce to thinking.
“I told Molly this would be a wonderful way to rob the bank. We just pull Ivan up there in front and everybody comes outside and I could just go in and help myself,” he said.
Ivan’s the only one of the threesome with a Seahawks jersey.
“We don’t have any 12th Man clothes. I dress like CDI,” Bruce said, referring to his company logo jacket and plaid shirt.
“And I dress like a wife,” Molly said, opening her overcoat to a sweater with a jeweled clasp.
The couple have known each other since they were kids.
“We’ve been married 25 years in March. It’s our second go-around. Both of us lost our spouses before,” Molly said.
They watch the football games from home.
“We have never been to a Seahawks game,” Bruce said. “I was hoping I’d get an invite and let me bring Ivan down during halftime to parade him around the stadium, but they haven’t called me yet.”