Big Ole - Big Viking Statue
Symbol of Minnesota Viking pride, Big Ole was built in early 1965 as a second-year addition to the 1964-65 New York Word's Fair (Fiberglass sculptor Gordon Schumaker also built the Smokey Bear in International Falls and the big Bluegill in Orr). In December, after the Fair closed, Big Ole was trucked to Alexandria, where he was erected on a traffic island on the north end of Broadway. He was an impressive sight, visible for many blocks down the wide boulevard, and at 28 feet tall he towered over most of the buildings in town.
Big Ole's conquest of Alexandria, however, was far from easy. In 1967 the town dressed him for the holidays in a Santa suit -- into which someone shot a flaming arrow that sent Ole up in flames! His sword was snapped off by another vandal, he was knocked cockeyed by a freak windstorm, and once, when he was lying prone for repairs, he was partially crushed under the collapse of a snow-covered roof. Through it all, however, Alexandria rallied to their Viking lord, footing the bills for his patch-ups and repaintings and celebrating his return every time.
In 2002, Alexandria moved Big Ole north a couple of blocks, and essentially out of town, to a small park on the south shore of Lake Agnes. His shield still boldly proclaims "Birthplace of America," but Big Ole has been given a less stressful spot for his middle age.