Central Minnesota town raises funds to save 'Big Ole,' giant Viking statue


Time has not been kind to Alexandria, Minnesota's most famous resident.

But his neighbors have, if the tens of thousands of dollars they've donated to help out Big Ole are any indication.

After putting out a call for help to fix the badly aged Viking statue, the Runestone Museum – Ole's owners – say they've reached their fundraising goal of $26,500, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

And the repairs are badly needed – among the problems plaguing the towering barbarian are peeling paint, a structurally unsound cape, chipping in his fiberglass body, and a family of birds – yes, you read that right – nesting in his shoulder, the museum says.

In addition, one of the wings on Ole's viking helmet was lost in last year's brutal winter.

Ole's revitalization could end up costing even more, however, with the Grand Forks Herald noting the statue's structural problems "were worse than expected."

Still, the hope is to have the repairs finished this fall, the Voice of Alexandria reports.

The publication says the "generosity of businesses and individuals" made Ole's rescue possible.

Also providing a huge assist was the Alexandria Area Community Foundation, which extended a grant to the museum that matched donations up to $10,000, according to the museum.

Believe it or not, Ole is actually from New York. According to Roadside America, the 28-foot-tall statue was built for the 1964-65 World's Fair in the Big Apple, after which he was "trucked" to Alexandria.

Since then, he has had his share of troubles – the most notable one happened in the late 1960s, when he was dressed in a giant Santa Claus suit that went up in flames, the website says.

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