Montevallo honors Tim Tingle with proclamation

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO –  One of Tim Tingle’s earliest wood carvings was on display at the Montevallo City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 9.

The piece was a long slat of wood with colorful birds delicately carved into the surface. Each bird was painted and stood out in bright, stark contrast to the plain wooden background they flew through.

This early carving of Tingle’s was created when he was only in middle school and already hinted at both his incredible talent and the future impact he would have on his community.

While Tingle never formally studied wood carving in college, he held a deep appreciation and love for the craft that made him pursue it on his own and have a willingness to constantly hone and improve his art.

It wouldn’t be until after the ‘Great Storm of the Century’ in 1993 that the world would see the extent of Tingle’s commitment to his craft.

In 1993, a massive storm hit Alabama. Snow and ice rained down on Alabama for more than 12 hours and caused millions of dollars in property damage and numerous fatalities. 

The storm also severely damaged many of the trees in Orr Park, leaving many of its trees half-dead. Tingle saw a park that had once been a significant linchpin in the community reduced to something broken and dying. Still, he also saw an opportunity to use his skills to take something hideous and make it beautiful again.

“I didn’t get permission,” Tingle said. “I just came here to start carving faces on trees, and I’d sneak out before they could find out who it was.”

Tingle completed six carvings before he got caught.

“When I got caught, I figured, ‘Well, they’re probably gonna prosecute me’, so I went home, locked the door and waited for the police to come to dig me out,” Tingle said. “But then someone from city hall called and said, ‘Mr. Tingle, we realize you didn’t have permission to hack on our trees, but we’ve decided not to prosecute you because everyone on the City Council seems to like your work.’”

Now officially sanctioned, Tingle continued his carvings, and it was not long until they caught the world’s attention outside of Montevallo.

“When the internet kicked in, pictures of my tree carvings started going all around the world, people from all over the country were stopping into this part to check them out,” Tingle said. “It got so popular that the town had to start making modifications and improvements. They had another city council meeting and said, ‘Look, Mr. Tingle, we got to compensate you in some way. You’ve done so much to improve things in the park. We’ve got to compensate for it.’ Instead of paying me, though, they changed the name of this section of trees along the creek here to Tinglewood.”

Today, Tinglewood is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Montevallo, and is the host of many events, including the Tinglewood Art Festival, where Tingle is one of the many vendors selling wood carvings.

Back in September, the city of Montevallo celebrated the fifth annual Tinglewood Art Festival, where woodcarvers from all over the world came together to sell their wares and celebrate the art form. 

The Montevallo City Council decided to take a moment on Monday, Oct. 9 to celebrate Tingle and his contributions to the community at their regularly scheduled meeting. They presented Tingle with an official proclamation and a wooden plaque commemorating his work and contributions to the city of Montevallo.

“In recognition of celebrating 30 years of Carving in Orr Park,” the plaque reads. “In appreciation of you giving your talent to all who walk the trail. In gratitude for your continued commitment to bringing delight to all who visit Tinglewood.”

The proclamation was meant to surprise Tingle, and the city council meeting was attended by Tingle’s entire family, including his children and grandchildren.

“No value can be placed on what one man has done that brings such delight to the community and to all the folks from all over the world,” Mayor Rusty Nix said.