Alexandria's famous norseman is getting a big ol' makeover


Big Ole needs some help: his cape is splitting apart, paint and fiberglass is peeling off and there's a family of birds living in his shoulder.

Repairs to the 50-year-old Viking statue cannot wait another year, the West Central Tribune says. The Runestone Museum, which maintains the statue, has already hired a contractor to begin work on Big Ole.

Now, the museum is hoping a little fundraising campaign will help it pay the $24,500 bill. The museum is asking for donations at any level – from elf ($10) to Viking chieftain ($500) – and if someone donates more than $500, they can name themselves whatever they'd like, the museum notes.

The funds will help repair the small town oddity that's "put Alexandria on the map," the Echo Press reports. Ole will get a new paint job that will improve his appearance, as well as important structural repairs that will strengthen the statue for years to come.

An orange construction fence and scaffolding are expected to go up this week, and repairs are expected to last until mid-September, the West Central Tribune notes.

The good news is the statue will be mostly visible throughout the process, so visitors will still be able to take their picture with the larger-than-life norseman.

Big Ole's history

Big Ole was built in early 1965 by fiberglass sculptor Gordon Schumaker (he also built Smokey Bear in International Falls and the big Bluegill in Orr) as a symbol of Alexandria's Viking pride, Roadside America says.

The statue made its debut at the New York World's Fair that same year before being trucked to Alexandria, where it was erected on the north end of Broadway Street, before moving down the street to Big Ole Central Park in 2002, Highway Highlights says.

Over the years, the statue has been lit on fire, vandalized, and damaged in storms – but its always been repaired, Roadside America adds.

Next Up

Jaden McDaniels

Wolves lose to Magic on Cole Anthony's buzzer-beater

The Wolves blew a 20-point lead as the Magic defeated the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

J.A. Happ

Twins sign veteran J.A. Happ to add to the rotation

The left-hander will get a one-year, $8 million deal from the Twins.

storm the capitol rally st. paul minnesota state capitol

BCA finds 'no criminal wrongdoing' among those at 'Storm the Capitol' rally

Inflammatory comments were made by speakers, but no charges will be brought.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 12.27.04 PM

Man's vehicles crushed by hit-and-run driver weren't fully insured

The goal is to raise $25,000 to help the south Minneapolis resident.

Joe Biden

Key points from Joe Biden's first speech as POTUS

The 46th president called for unity at a time America is facing huge challenges.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 20

The 111 ICU patients is the fewest in Minnesota since there were 109 COVID patients in intensive care on Oct. 1.


Here's what Amy Klobuchar said at Joe Biden's inauguration

The Minnesota senator was one of the leader organizers of the inauguration.

covid-19, vaccine

All of this week's COVID vaccine pilot program appointments are filled

Nearly 6,000 Minnesotans who are 65 and older registered for appointments between noon Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Lane kueng thao chauvin

Osterholm affidavit ahead of George Floyd trial warns of COVID worsening in March

Prosecutors want to delay the Chauvin trial due to a public health threat.