Skip to main content

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.

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. 

Next Up

Minneapolis police

Death of man found inside Minneapolis apartment ruled homicide

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call 1-800-222-8477.

minnesota state fair bandshell concert

Minnesota State Fair reveals its free concert lineup for 2022

More than 900 performances will happen across numerous stages.

Jason DeRusha

Jason DeRusha stepping down as morning news anchor at WCCO

His last day anchoring WCCO This Morning will be June 23.

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 9.58.36 PM

Eric Perkins, Miss Minnesota, Paul Fletcher create new podcast

The podcast is released Tuesdays at 8 a.m. and is available wherever you find podcasts.

Mock aircraft cabin.

MSP Airport debuts mock aircraft to help ease flying anxiety

The pre-flight experiences cover the TSA screening procedure, exploring a terminal, boarding a plane and meeting a pilot, and preparing for takeoff.

Scripps National Spelling Bee

These Minnesota kids will be competing at National Spelling Bee

The upcoming event in Maryland will be the first fully in-person Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2019.

covid, kids

New data shows how omicron has impacted kids in Minnesota

The new data shows breakthrough data during the omicron period, which began Dec. 19, 2021.

Javen Juan Moreno

Albert Lea shooting suspect arrested after 3 weeks on the run

He is accused of shooting a man in the upper thigh on May 1.


Motorcyclist, 59, killed after losing control on right curve

The Harley Davidson rider was thrown from his bike.

state capitol Minnesota

Minnesota's 2022 legislative session: What's happening?

A list of items agreed upon and yet to reach any bipartisan agreement in the latest legislative session.

water drain

Water main break floods 40-45 homes in St. Louis Park

The city says the rupture happened on Minnetonka Boulevard.

Eli Hart

Charges: 6-year-old Eli Hart shot up to 9 times by his mother

The 28-year-old is facing 2nd-degree murder charges.


paul bunyan bemidji

City: Paul Bunyan broke his arm because people were hanging on it

The police have surveillance video of the incident and are investigating.

paul bunyan bemidji broken arm

Bemidji's historic Paul Bunyan statue suffers separated arm

There's a plan to get the lumberjack's broken arm fixed.

Vandal spray-paints 'genocide' on Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji

The statue has stood tall next to Paul Bunyan since 1937.

St. Paul hit and run

Surveillance photo shows suspect in St. Paul hit-and-run case

Police are asking the public for help identifying the man.

paul bunyan land

3 hurt in 3-car crash outside Paul Bunyan Land

The crash involved a motorist turning into the amusement park's parking lot.

medina portapotty

Police: Illegal fireworks wipe out portable toilet in Medina

Officials are seeking the public's help in identifying those involved.