Marlin Miller, a local tree carving artist, made his first cut on Destin’s magnolia tree on Tuesday, which garnered a large turn-out of onlookers.
“I’m happy to report that so far everybody’s been pleased with what we’re doing,” said Marlin’s wife, Renee Miller.
The Millers were worried that some locals might respond negatively to the carving process, however most seem to be supportive of the idea.
“Everybody’s excited, and we’ve got a local artist,” said Legendary CEO Peter Bos. “If you’re gonna have the tree die, at least you can turn it into something spectacular.”
Miller explained that by carving the dying tree, its life will actually be prolonged.
“If I don’t carve it, it will be cut off from the ground,” Miller said. “This is a very large and solid tree it’s got a long ways to go.”
Linda Phillips, a local Destin resident, brought her kids and their friends out to watch the carving process.
“I think it’s awesome, just fabulous,” Phillips said. “In a way, they are saving the spirit of the tree.”
Another Destin onlooker, Charlie Noonan agreed, “If it had to go, I think it’s a good idea. He’s a real professional.”
Noonan’s wife, Patti, was not as upbeat. “I’m sad, it’s a lot of history,” she said. “I just remember all the stories.” Patti, also a local artist, came out to the carving site in hopes of collecting fallen pieces of the magnolia to create miniature replicas of the tree.
“The facts are, this tree was fine before they took away 50 percent of the oxidation of the tree,” said Harborwalk employee Scott Griffith. “But at this point it’s about trying to make it not look so sad. It’s been sad, and it’s time to not be sad anymore.”