It may have been the closest thing Liberty Lake ever came to Bigfoot.
When the Weeping Blue Spruce outside Screen Tek Inc. on Appleway began to take on a life of its own, longtime employees like Emily Synold recall bypassers stopping by to gawk. A co-worker had added a pair of giant googly eyes, transforming the massive shrub into a leafy version of the Abominable Snowman.
“We’d see people in the parking lot, taking pictures,” Synold said.
Screen Tek, a manufacturer of custom-made printed graphics, has called Liberty Lake home since 1988, six years after it was founded. Sybold said the company’s most recognizable plant “just kind of started to weep the wrong way.” A dense, sprawling version of the Evergreen Tree, the Weeping Blue Spruce is known for growing in a narrowly upright and columnar fashion. Screen Tek’s spruce was positioned just to the right of the main entrance, scaling over 10 feet and acting as a foreboding de facto gatekeeper.
“It was a novelty that was fun and kind of cute but you had to walk around it,” said Screen Tek co-owner Scott Mader who purchased the company last year with his wife Miesha. “We had customers that would have to duck to get in.”
Earlier this year, the decision was made to retire Screen Tek’s most famous landscape landmark. Don Nelson of Tree Artistry in Otis Orchards, who trims the foliage around the Screen Tek property, transformed the tree into a carved piece of art featuring two squirrels scrambling for an acorn. The Screen Tek Inc. acronym, in patriotic red, white and blue, is also part of the design.
“It had really become too overgrown,” Mader said. “It had its time. Some folks wanted to keep it, others wanted it to come down. We were just more concerned about our customers scraping their heads.”
Synold, who has worked for Screen Tek since 1997, said the transition from shrub monster to dueling squirrels has been accepted in stride.
“There may have been some people who were a little sad that it went away but there was no protest or anything,” she said.
Mader said Liberty Lake’s rendition of a non-deciduous Sasquatch will be remembered fondly.
“After the eyeballs were added, people were like, ‘What’s the deal with this?’” he said. “It was just kind of this weird company mascot that will always be part of Screen Tek lore.”