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LEGO MAN - Hobby instrumental in NCO’s life

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By Story and photos by RACHAEL TOLLIVER

It’s good to have a hobby—until it takes over.

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If individuals ask Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Pardini what his hobby is, and thinks it has taken over elements of his life—he’ll laugh. And point to the hundreds of Lego projects that decorate his office.

Pardini, who is the Mobilization Health Service noncommissioned officer in charge at Ireland Army Health Clinic, will soon retire after 25 years, and when he does he will box up his “office collection,” blend it with the rest of his Legos and move on to the next phase of his life.

“‘Constructing’ and ‘collecting’ are terms for those too weak of heart to admit they play with Legos,” Pardini jokingly explained. “I play with Legos with my granddaughter … I grew up with Legos and they faded out around age 13. When the ‘Lego’ movie came out, I picked it back up again.
At first, I thought I would just get all the ‘Lego’ movie sets. I found myself buying a lot of other sets especially the ‘Friends’ line because my
granddaughter likes the mini dolls in those sets.”

He said his wife “tolerates” the hobby, but hasn’t really been a long-term fan. But he said over the last few years she does catch herself being amazed at some of the projects he builds. She even broke down and got him a set for Christmas this year.

And yes, his office is literally decorated in his creations—some designed by Lego, and some by Pardini.

For example, hanging in one corner of his office is a “Star Wars” scene complete with attacking ships and Lego warriors. Next to that diorama, on another wall, are attacking dragons, and below that are three shelves of smaller creations awaiting their summons to life. And somewhere he has a pizza food truck, and a pizza set as a testament to his affinity for pizza related items.

Also, sitting among the smaller figures is a very large yellow duck. But it’s not any duck.

“This one is my favorite,” Pardini said. “I embellished this one with my own ideas. He has the nickname of ‘Trojan Duck’ by my fellow NCO’s because he has a control room inside and weapons hidden underneath. It’s one of those tongue-in-cheek things that Lego builders do.”

He added that sometimes, he can look at an object and think, “I could build that in Lego.” He said that anyone can Google any object they can think of and “+Lego” and 95 percent of the time someone has built it out of Lego and posted it on the Internet.

There are benefits from any good hobby and Pardini said this one isn’t any different.

For starters it’s fun, he said. It’s a great social catch, and it gives him a sense of calm and focus. But more importantly it is something he gets to do with his granddaughter.

“One of my favorite moments here at IRAHC was being here for the birth of my granddaughter on the ward where I had been the NCOIC,” he explained. “The staff was professional, caring and went above and beyond as always... But, I’ve been doing things with her ever since—she is three and is the second biggest Lego fan in the house.”

When he leaves IRAHC, he will leave behind a Lego replica he created of the facility and pack away the rest until that “next phase.” Such plans will include opening a pizza shop with his father—who’s been in the businesses for 40 years—in Pennsylvania and figuring a way to incorporate Legos into the shop. He sees either a full blown Lego room for kids with a Lego Users Group and sponsor-builds for local events and Lego conventions, or a display for monthly holidays, topics and observances.

“I’ll coordinate different commemoration days or themes with Legos,” he said. “Like ‘Fire and Rescue Day’ or ‘May the 4th be with you day.’ Or green displays for St. Patrick’s Day, pink and red for Valentine’s Day.

“I want to create a family friendly-environment, with good food and a place where people come to enjoy themselves….makes good memories.” n