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The world's largest hockey puck is coming to Allentown. Here's how it was made.

John Steenland
These are the two halves of what will become the world's largest hockey puck. It will be dropped outside of the PPL Center in downtown Allentown to ring in the New Year on Saturday night. It was constructed at Richmond Machine & Welding in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

HANOVER TWP., Pa. — To help draw massive crowds to the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, British Columbia, a company was hired to build the world’s largest hockey stick.

At 205 feet long and weighing in at more than 62,000 pounds, the stick was 40 times the size of a normal one, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Now, nearly 40 years later and some 3,000 miles away, a Lehigh Valley company has been commissioned to build the world’s largest hockey puck — and for a similar reason.

  • Richmond Machine & Welding has designed what appears to be the world's largest hockey puck
  • It will total 20 feet in diameter and weigh more than 1,000 pounds
  • The puck will drop outside the PPL Center as part of Allentown's New Year's Eve celebration

It’s designed, in part, as an attraction for revelers to downtown Allentown’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

But before the puck drops in a final countdown to midnight, it will be a showpiece for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as fans watch the team do battle with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins.

For reference, a regulation-sized hockey puck used by the American Hockey League is about 3 inches in diameter and roughly an inch thick, weighing around 6 ounces.

But the puck that will be showcased by the Phantoms is a lot bigger — so big, in fact, that bringing it downtown nearly required a special permit because of its size and weight.

Instead, the puck will be moved in two pieces to Seventh and Hamilton streets on Saturday afternoon. There, it will be put together with 36 bolts strong enough to lift more than 57,000 pounds.

Then, it will be hoisted onto a crane, from where it will be dropped at midnight to ring in 2023.

Once the puck is assembled, Allentown will be able to lay claim to what its creators say will be the biggest hockey puck in the world — totaling 20 feet in diameter and weighing in at about 1,000 pounds.

For perspective, it will be 300 pounds heavier than a 700-pound puck on display in Eveleth, Minnesota, and probably the largest thing the Phantoms have lifted off the ground at the PPL Center since the arena scoreboard was hoisted to the rafters.

Richmond Machine & Welding built the puck, which sat inside its shop in Hanover Township, Northampton County, on Tuesday morning awaiting a test run of the full assembly.

Despite the puck's size, the process to create it never was daunting, said John Steenland, vice president of operations for the company.

“We can build, design, fabricate or whatever," Steenland said. "It doesn't matter what it is, people can come in here with a napkin drawing, and we have a CAD [computer-aided design] team, and we can engineer and design whatever it is and make it come to life.”

The company has been in business since 1917, first opening its doors in Philadelphia off Richmond and Ontario streets.

It moved to its current location in 2013, managing partner Bart Kline said, and specializes in providing concept-to-finish welding, fabricating, machining and repair services.

But building enormous hockey pucks is not typically part of a day’s work.

“I got hooked up with this guy in Nazareth who tints windows, and he's good friends with Gerald Grube,” Steenland said. “Gerald is the corporate partnerships manager through the Phantoms, and he came to me and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to build the world's largest hockey puck?’"

Steenland’s answer, in a nutshell: “Yeah, OK. What do you want me to do?”

“Gerald was like, ‘Well, we don't really know. You’ve got to come up with the design.’ And I'm like, ‘OK, no problem.’ So we designed this thing up and, you know, basically made a CAD drawing and got a tubing roller and started going HAM on it.”

As the design grew, so did a collaborative effort that stretched across the Lehigh Valley.

“We started working with FastSigns of Easton to have them draw up the artwork, and they came up with a pretty cool design,” Steenland said. “And then Fast Lane Towing & Transport down here in Bethlehem, I’m good friends with them and I always have big stuff that they’re moving.

“So they were happy to work with the Phantoms. They've had an ongoing sponsorship over the last few years with them, it just so happens. So it was sort of a really good fit for all of us to kind of get together.

"I built the main structure, FastSides printed all the vinyl and wrapped the whole thing. And then Fast Lane will bring it over to the PPL Center.”

If all goes according to plan, the puck will be dropped off inside a 20-foot cordoned off area, where the two halves will become whole.

“I’ve gotta go inside of it and bolt it all together," Steenland said. "And then the crane will show up, pick it up, and then we’ll be able to turn on the lights and suspend it.”

At that point, Phantoms fans hopefully will emerge into the night and will be able to take photos with the puck before it’s hoisted into the air.

After that, the countdown to midnight will be on.

“I think the cool thing will be just to turn it on,” Steenland said. “It has LED lights behind the eyes that light up red. There’s orange around the outsides that will light up, and the perimeter will light up.

“They wanted it to look like the bat signal from Batman. Hopefully everyone’s going to love it.”