What started as a challenge to create a float for a local parade turned into an offbeat art form for Noah Russell, an employee at Breighner’s Tire Center. His skilled work using an unconventional medium has transformed what would be a rather mundane suburban storefront into a double-take city in the quiet town of Littleton, Pennsylvania.
In 2018, tire shop owner Randy Breighner took notice of Russell’s creative designs using rubber tires and asked him to build a floor for Littleton’s annual Good Ole Days Festival parade. The tire lion float that Russell built won first prize. The following year, Russell built an eight-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon out of vulcanized rubber.
He used metal and coat hangers to stabilize and shape the wings. The body was made primarily of turf tires to create a scaly look, and whitewall tires from a classic car became the dragon’s teeth and horns. A motor designed to depress a can of butane, sending the gas through a long brake line to an ignition coil operated by remote control was the finishing touch in creating a fire-breathing effect.
The dragon captured first place in the Good Ole Days Festival parade, giving Russell the title two years in a row. It was such a hit that it was featured in the Gettysburg and Hanover Halloween parades.
Aiming for the trifecta, Russell built an intricate headless horseman sculpture the following year, but the parade was scuttled due to COVID. The horseman was moved to the shop along with the lion and dragon, and the trio served as a spirit booster as the town of Littleton rode out the pandemic.
The original three sculptures have since been joined by a horned stag and a reef with several aquatic creatures, and the store has become a favorite landmark for people traveling along Hanover Pike.