LARGEST -- Viking in the Land
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 45° 53.454 W 095° 22.640
15T E 315557 N 5084674
Quick Description: Big Ole, proclaimed to be the largest Viking in the land, is located in Alexandria, Minnesota, across the street from the Runestone Museum.
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 9/2/2009 4:45:29 PM
Waymark Code: WM750T
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 12

Long Description:
Big Ole is accompanied by the sign below:

The following additional information is from the Alexandria, Minnesota, Chamber of Commerce website:

Big Ole History

In January of 1964, North Star World’s Fair Corporation, a Minnesota non-profit corporation from Osseo, Minnesota, informed Minnesotans about an addition to the Minnesota Pavilion was to be named “Minnesota, Birthplace of America.”

In April of 1965, the Viking statue construction was completed by Gordon Displays of Minneapolis, and was shipped to New York on a special trailer designed to accommodate its 28 foot height and 4 ton weight.

April 21, 1965 was the start of the New York World’s fair. In two days, over 250,000 fairgoers viewed the Viking Statue.

On December 21, 1965, the Viking Statue arrived in Alexandria. It was to be located on the “island” on the north end of Broadway. Alexandria now was christened the “Birthplace of America”.

In 1967, “Big Ole” was dressed in a Santa Suit for the holiday season. A prankster shot a flaming arrow that landed on “Big Ole’s” Santa suit and it went up in flames. The cost of repairing the Viking Statue was approximately $3,000.

On August 21, 1980, the Viking was moved back from its island in the center of the intersection of County 82 and Broadway to approximately 2nd Avenue to make way for a new stop light and also for safety reasons. The 28-foot statue caused traffic problems and obscured the vision of oncoming traffic through this growing intersection. The Department of Transportation paid for “Big Ole” to be moved.

Several times over the years, Big Ole needed a fresh coat of paint. He was repainted in 1985, 1991, and 1996. In 1991, he acquired a more youthful look when the color of his beard and hair color was changed from gray to blonde. 1996 brought a stormy season that sent 70 mph straight-line winds down Broadway directly at Big Ole. He was no longer the tall straight man he had been. There was a sway in his stature, and he was in need of a major renovation. Many feared that if he was not repaired, another windstorm could mean the last of Big Ole. In the fall of 1996 Big Ole was taken from his cement slab and laid on his back for renovation. Craftsmen reinforced his internal welding and put all new fiberglass on his outside.

The winter of 1996-1997 was very tough in the Midwest. Big Ole was one of its victims. While under renovation in an outer building at the Runestone Museum, the roof collapsed on him. It only hit the toe of his foot by 6 inches, but hit with enough force to cause a domino effect along his right side, breaking the inner welding of his structure. With the generous help of the community of Alexandria and donations from Ole Fans coming in the mail, $27,000 was raised to complete the initial renovation and to do the additional repairs to damage caused by the winter accident. To those people who joined in donating to the Ole project, the Runestone Museum is extremely grateful.

To express their thanks, the Runestone Museum along with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce had a celebration on Memorial Weekend of 1997. They called it “Ole Oppe Fest” (“Oppe” means “up” in Norwegian). Big Ole’s new paint job and sturdy body was revealed with much fanfare that included fireworks and other entertainment, food and games.

Ole is also present at another festival. Each Thanksgiving weekend, the Annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony ushers in Christmas cheer, a visit with Santa Claus, food and music. Perhaps the most important part of the celebration is the Lighting of the Lights Ceremony. Crowds gather at the foot of Big Ole to watch Santa flip the switch that turns on all the gorgeous Christmas lights up and down Broadway.

During the summer and fall of 2002, Big Ole made another move, this time back to approximately 1st Avenue. With the continued growth of Alexandria, more road construction is needed at the North End of Broadway and once again, Big Ole found himself obscuring traffic.

He now stands in a new park and trail head for the Central Lakes Trail.

Type of documentation of superlative status: Sign by the Big Ole Statue

Location of coordinates: Base of Big Ole

Web Site: [Web Link]

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