The 7,000-pound concrete, smoke-breathing Blaze statue was dedicated April 29 in front of hundreds of faculty, staff and students on the concourse in front of Bartow Arena, just in time for commencement ceremonies May 3.

Blaze, the mascot, stands with the newly installed, 7,000-pound, smoke-breathing Blaze, the statue, on the concourse in front of Bartow Arena.

“UAB is a young university but we have a very rich history,” UAB President Carol Garrison said during the dedication. “We are so proud of our competitive and innovative spirit that has won respect the world over. Blaze is a breath-taking, smoke-breathing symbol of that spirit.”

UAB’s National Alumni Society commissioned the almost 10-foot tall, 16-and-half-foot long statue, said Rebecca Watson, associate vice president of Alumni Affairs & Annual Giving.

“The National Alumni Society is proud to be a part of bringing this icon to our campus,” Watson says. “It gives us a chance to celebrate the pride of UAB together.”

Creating memories
Nate Wade, an academic advisor in Biology, and Abbie Sumners, assistant director of Financial Aid, formed a 16-person Committee on UAB Traditions this past year to recommend ways to increase school spirit. One recommendation was this statue.

NAS President Anita Clemon said the society’s board of directors knew it was a project they wanted to support.

“The addition of the Blaze statue to campus will help students and alumni find a common location to rally for special occasions,” Clemon said. “This will create memories we will carry, memories that will stretch across many generations.”

T.J. Neil, who has been sculpting concrete statues for 35 years – and who specializes in dragons and gargoyles — delivered the statue after four months of work creating it at his Homosassa, Fla., home.

Clemon, who also is UAB’s manager of Human Resource Management Records and Compliance Administration, said she is happy Blaze is guarding the front entrance to Bartow Arena. “UAB is a special place and these traditions show the community the pride and the spirit we feel as students and alumni,” she said.