Record Tacoma rainfall stalls Sun King’s return

Record rainfall last month has delayed a project to move Tacoma’s Sun King sculpture out of storage and into a public park in downtown Tacoma.

Seven years ago, the three-ton, 15-foot-tall, 22-foot-wide steel frame sculpture wrapped in a silicon bronze skin was removed from the corner of Broadway and South 13th Street — its home for three decades — to make way for a new piece of public art. Today, the piece, which was created by Corvallis, Ore.-based sculptor Tom Morandi nearly 40 years ago, sits in storage at the City of Tacoma’s Fleet Operations Headquarters.

In December, the City of Tacoma began to accept bids on a $25,000 project that would take Sun King out of storage and place it in a park located at South 15th Street and Dock Street, near Thea Foss Waterway. The bid deadline expired on Dec. 19. Five contractors submitted bids, with Puyallup, Wash.-based D & D Construction submitting the least expensive bid and being awarded the contract.

In March, City of Tacoma staff told the Tacoma Daily Index the goal was to pour a concrete base for the sculpture at the public park site during the week of March 17. One month later, after allowing the concrete ample time to dry, the contractor planned to move the sculpture out of storage and install it in the park.

That plan has changed, however, due to record rainfall in the Seattle-Tacoma area last month. According to the National Weather Service, approximately 9.44 inches fell at Sea-Tac Airport as of Sun., March 30, breaking all previous records for March. In Tacoma, approximately 7.9 inches fell in Tacoma as of Fri., March 28, breaking the previous record for March.

“We were hoping to pour concrete on Wednesday of this week, but the contractor decided to wait based on the weather reports we were getting last Thursday,” explained Tacoma Public Works Project Engineer Dan Cederlund on Monday. “He wants three days of no rain: one to dig, one to form the concrete, and one to pour the concrete. I know the weather reports have improved over the weekend and we could have moved forward, but last Thursday it did not look good.”

Once the concrete is poured, the contractor and the City of Tacoma are expected to wait three-to-four weeks before the sculpture is moved out of storage and placed in the park.

The publicly-owned bronze sculpture "Sun King" was created in 1976 by Oregon artist Tom Morandi. It was originally installed outside the former Sheraton Hotel in downtown Tacoma. (PHOTO COURTESY TOM MORANDI)

The publicly-owned bronze sculpture “Sun King” was created in 1976 by Oregon artist Tom Morandi. It was originally installed outside the former Sheraton Hotel in downtown Tacoma. (PHOTO COURTESY TOM MORANDI)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of Tacoma’s Sun King, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at