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Dozens gather to watch sharpening of giant No. 2 pencil near Lake Of The Isles

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A large crowd turned out Saturday to see a new landmark in Minneapolis -- a giant pencil near Lake of the Isles.

John Higgins, a homeowner on East Lake of the Isles Parkway, commissioned an artist to turn his damaged bur oak tree into a 20-foot-tall No. 2 pencil. The work is called the "Loti Tree."

"We thought let's do something basic, simple that we can execute, but something that's classic," Higgins told WCCO last month.

The tree was severely damaged during a 2017 thunderstorm. Higgins said losing the old oak tree was like losing a friend. However, with some encouragement from the community, he decided to turn the stump into a work of art.

David Reese, an artisanal pencil sharpener, was among those who gathered to see the finished work on Saturday.

"One of the reasons I like dealing with pencils is it's very nostalgic for me, because I used pencils all the time when I was in elementary school," he said. "But now, as an adult, I just do everything on my phone or a computer. I don't use pencils any more. So if I do any event kids respond to it, because it's something they have day-to-day experience with."

Crews sharpened the tip of the giant pencil with a chainsaw as a crowd of on-lookers cheered. Higgins hopes to make the sharpening of the pencil a yearly event.

"When you sharpen it, it's a promise to write a love letter, to write a formula, to write a story," Higgins said.

Click here for more on the Loti Tree's story. You can also follow the tree on Instagram.

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