• Erica Sikorski

Anything Look Familiar?

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Back in 2012, somehow my Father came in contact with a connection who was looking to re-home the massive rocks from the Polar Bear exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo. At that time Erie County invested $3 million in capital funding to replace the antiquated bear pits that had been at the Zoo for well over a century and it was time to deconstruct.

My Father was a simple but proud man, also stubborn, a retired Correctional Officer, but an Engineer at heart. He was a man of many trades and if he did not know how to do something he would learn (except the computer). He and I had our battles but i always would succumb to be his admin, lol, but he hated to depend on people for help, despised it. He knew he needed to protect the shoreline. Years, decades were going by and he studied that shoreline regularly. He was a methodical thinker and he knew he needed to build a break wall, something to kill the force of the waves and prevent the amount of debris the winters would bring into the parking lot. It required cleanup (and time) every spring. He knew he needed to protect the shoreline from erosion, but how? So naturally when he came across this opportunity he did not hesitate. When i was told the amount he spent to "re-home" parts of the polar bear exhibit, i thought legitimately he had rocks in his head, and literally he did, lol! He spent his life building a dream and a legacy, and dragged my mother along for the ride. My mother trusted him and believed in him. She gave wind to his wings, allowed him to fly, she supported him and any chance to use his ingenuity no matter how crazy it sounded.

One early fall 2012 day, i was driving home from work, my Father was at Bedrock with bulldozers, loading trucks, and other heavy operating equipment so i stopped to see how he was progressing. He was in his element, in his zone! He loved this stuff, this is what he lived for, he was in his playground, orchestrating massive rocks being strategically placed along the 400 feet of shoreline, in and out of the water, methodically to see if he could testify with Mother Nature. He had a fascination with Neptune, too. He was probably channeling his inner-Neptune.

Lets not forget our 'Alter'! From polar bear den to dog pen! <3

Hindsight, i wish i listened more and talked back less. To say he was smart is an understatement, he was a genius at re-using what others thought was garbage. He was a regular at salvage yards around Buffalo to where the guys who worked there said they saw my Dad more than their wives. Good or bad he was our Junk-Yard Dog and he loved it, it was his passion. I must say i was extremely thankful this past February when massive amount of ice chunks were flowing over them to eventually just stop. More so thankful i am not in a bob-cat every spring cleaning debris what Lake Erie winters leave behind.

And now today, the $14 million Arctic Edge experience provides expansive living quarters for the Buffalo Zoo’s two star polar bears, Luna and Kali, while also creating exhibit space for Canadian lynx, arctic wolf, and bald eagle habitats and Bedrock's shore is protected (physically and spiritually).

And finally, rumor has it that the new barrier currently under construction on the other side of Hoaks will mimic some ingenuity my Father implemented years ago. Whether true or not, he is smiling ear to ear supporting all involved improving the shoreline conditions and our safety.

#hewasmychampion #hechallengedmeandichallengedhimback #restinpeacedad

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