World's Largest Turkey
July 1, 1998. Frazee, Minnesota. On a hilltop overlooking the western entrance to this peaceful town, members of Frazee's maintenance department are secretly laboring over Big Tom -- the 22-foot-tall beloved civic symbol of this, the Turkey Capital of the World -- working against the clock to get BT shipshape for Frazee's upcoming Turkey Days festival. With a blowtorch.
An errant tongue of superheated flame ignites one of the legs of the highly combustible paper mache gobbler. Within seconds, Big Tom is wrapped in a death mantle of black smoke, its body feeding the insatiable fire like grandma feeding gruel to a Thanksgiving season orphanage. Fire departments from neighboring towns rush in to contain the blaze -- much to the embarrassment of Frazee's maintenance crew -- but it's already too late. All that remains is a pile of unrecognizable slag.
For the first time in a dozen years the Turkey Days festival goes on without Big Tom. His charred pedestal of honor is occupied by a crudely shaped paper mache egg.
But not for long! The cycle of civic symbol life comes full circle on September 19 -- when a new, improved Big Tom arrived in town (on order from F.A.S.T.), once again providing the visual gravy to Frazee's meaty boast.
[Note: Even though Frazee received by far its most publicity ever because of Big Tom's fiery exit, and even though we personally can't resist a good tourist attraction fire photo, we do not encourage the immolation of large, weather-beaten, combustible civic symbols by other towns.]