Watch: Video shows the moment someone broke the Paul Bunyan statue's arm

Police are asking for the public's help to identify those involved.
Publish date:

Bemidji's historic Paul Bunyan statue suffered a broken arm after one person hung from the giant lumberjack's right arm.

That's according to surveillance video of the incident that the Bemidji Police Department released on Friday. Here's the video:

The video shows a person hanging on Paul's arm, with at least four other people watching. The person then appears to be using Paul's arm to climb up the statue, but the arm breaks and they falls to the ground. 

Paul's broken arm.

Paul's broken arm.

As Paul's arm swings slightly, the group begins to leave the park, the video shows.

The release of the surveillance video comes as police work to identify the people involved. 

Police are asking anyone with information on what happened to contact CrimeStoppers online here or by calling 1-800-222-8477. Tips may qualify for a reward of up to $1,000.

Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince first shared the news about Paul's broken arm on Monday, noting the concrete failed but the arm is being held on by rebar that runs through the statue. He did not give any insight on what may have happened. 

Then on Wednesday, the city's Park and Recreation Department shared an update, saying a group of people climbing and hanging on Paul is to blame for the damage.

"Paul, throughout his history in Paul Bunyan Park has been interactive with many visitors standing close, holding his leg, and hand. Paul has withstood the years in the park," Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson said. "Unfortunately, in this case, the cause of the failure/breakage appears to have been caused by several people climbing and hanging off of Paul’s arm and the adjacent sign." 

There are plans to get Paul fixed soon. The city had already hired Jensen Conservation to do some work on Paul and Babe the Blue Ox in the near future. The group has pushed up its visit and will be on-site next week to assess and fix the damage, as well as to conduct the previously planned conservation work on Paul and Babe. 

Paul and Babe have been in Paul Bunyan Plaza, at 300 Bemidji Ave., since the 1930s and the park department has discouraged climbing on the statues because it could cause damage.

Paul, who stands 18 feet tall, and Babe were unveiled in 1937 as part of a promotion for the winter carnival to recognize the area's logging history, Visit Bemidji says.

The statues are on the National Register of Historic Places, and, according to Visit Bemidji, Eastman Kodak recognized Paul and Babe as the second-most photographed icon in the nation.

To this day, thousands of visitors come to see and take selfies with Paul and his blue ox. 

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