In 2005, the Tucson community saw the unveiling of a dynamic, 64-foot long, tiled Diamond Back Rattler beautifying the Wrightstown and Pantano Road median.
The artwork, known as the “Wrightstown Snake,” was commissioned by former Ward 2 Council member Carol West and created by six student artists from Tucson Accelerated High School, with funding from the City of Tucson Department of Neighborhood Resources Youth Employment.
This Youth Enrichment/Employment project took two months to complete and quickly became a bright attraction for the surrounding neighborhoods.
It’s been close to 12 years now since the construction of the original Wrightstown Snake, and over those years, the artwork experienced extensive damage. The original Styrofoam body could not withstand the weather and traffic conditions and, over time, the artwork eroded.
The head was fully rebuilt, but the body had to be removed. A few years ago, an effort to rebuild the snake was kicked off by West, along with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and current Ward 2 Council member Paul Cunningham. Sponsors donated a total of $3,200 for the snake to be fully restored and correctly constructed to withstand weather and traffic conditions.
Local artist Katie Cooper, in collaboration with the Portable Practical Education Preparation (PPEP) YouthBuild/Americorps program, took on the reconstruction project. The YouthBuild program helps youth obtain their GED diploma and learn job and leadership skills through the construction of affordable housing and engagement in community service projects.
Cooper created a new design for the Wrightstown Snake, and PPEP completed the reconstruction of the body, which will be much sturdier and require less maintenance.