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Uff-da: Tough break for Big Ole

Big Ole is looking a little lopsided after the loss of one of his helmet wings late last week. Wind and rotting wood are the likely culprits. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)

Uff-da – tough break for the big guy; Big Ole’s got a boo-boo.

During last week’s barrage of thunderstorms, the big guy who keeps watch over our hamlet, lost one of his helmet wings to the weather.

The 28-foot-tall Fiberglas Viking statue stands at the north end of Broadway in downtown Alexandria. He’s been in that area for nearly 50 years.

Runestone Museum owns Big Ole and museum director Jim Bergquist told the Echo Press the wing must have blown off last Friday night.

On Saturday, Alexandria police officer Jeremy Olson informed the museum about the wing.

“We got a call from a concerned citizen who saw it,” Olson told the Echo Press. They had placed it up on the pedestal and said they were afraid it would have been stolen.”

Olson loaded it in his squad, drove it to the museum and carried in the 15-pound, 3-foot-long wing. Now, it’s up to the museum’s board of directors to determine how much it will cost to get a wing back in place and how they’ll pay for it.

“It looks like the wood inside the wing had gotten soft and it was weaker than it should be,” Bergquist said. “We didn’t budget for something like this to happen.” He added there is no timeline for when the wing might be reattached or replaced.

For now, the wing is at the museum and available to get a closer look at. “If kids want to come by and see and touch it, they sure can,” Bergquist said.


In the meantime, there’s been an outpouring of concern for the big fella.

Patty Wicken of Alexandria set up a “Get Well Big Ole” Facebook page after Bruce McKirdy, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce president, joked that Big Ole should have a Facebook page. Wicken said, “I thought, ‘Why not?’”

In just 48 hours, the page has already received 243 “likes” and lots of get well wishes and fun comments:

● Timothy Jon Berg wrote, “Get well soon Big Ole!”

● Kathy Kramer wrote: “Hope the wing gets put back on soon.”

● Cassie Evjen wrote: “We hope you get fixed and feel better Big Ole! Love The Evjens.”

● Joel Dahlheimer wrote: “Get me a ladder and some crazy glue....”

The page has also morphed to include old photos and memories of Ole. Wicken said Big Ole is special to area residents and the statue has “…just been through it,” from fires and anatomical vandalism to a controversial move from the middle of the street to his new location at Big Ole Park.

“Poor guy,” she said.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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