Resident shows support of Panthers, enjoyment of art

Nick Stroman

Do not be alarmed if you see panthers roaming the streets of Washington with teeth bared and piercing eyes following you as you drive down Route 24.

It is merely the work of Randy Sorensen, who has created various panther signs for the athletic boosters club to help promote the Washington Community High School sports teams.

Sorensen, who works full-time as a banker for CIB Marine Bankshares at Central Illinois Bank, created 24 signs last summer during his nights and weekends off.

This is the second school year the signs have been featured around the city.

“The boosters provided the lumber and the paint and I showed them my designs for approval,” Sorensen said.

“It only took me a week-and-a-half to complete everything,” he added.

The signs include some with just panther eyes while another features a growling panther with the phrase “Welcome to the Jungle,” inspired by the popular Guns N’ Roses song from the 1980s.

“Panther crossing” signs border the high school parking lot and football field, and there are also crates featuring the panther drawings.

Sorensen said the boosters approached him after seeing the designs he made for a high school after-prom party, a chili supper and items featured in his own home.

“Truthfully, I had made so many things around my own house, I was starting to run out of wall space,” Sorensen said.

Sorensen said he has overhauled his bathroom with a Coca-Cola theme and recently started work on deck chairs featuring themes of panthers, Coke and Illinois State University, where his daughter, Randi Jean, is attending college this year as a freshman.

“Maybe I’ve been getting involved in all these art projects due to empty nest syndrome,” Sorensen said with a laugh.

“Some people fish in their spare time, but I tend to tinker and develop designs,” he added.

Sorensen said while his artwork is something he enjoys doing, he would never consider the pasttime as a career.

“Washington is a great community so it’s easy to get behind it and help out when I can,” he said.