Bemidji police release video of Paul Bunyan statue's arm being broken

An image of the Paul Bunyan statue with damage to one arm
Bemidji's iconic statue of Paul Bunyan suffered a major separation in his right arm. The damage was reported on Monday.
Photo courtesy of Jorge Prince

Bemidji police on Friday released surveillance video footage showing the moment that someone climbing on the city's iconic Paul Bunyan statue caused one of its arms to break.

The damage apparently happened last weekend, and was first reported Monday. The video released Friday shows a person — part of a group gathered on the statue plaza — hanging from the concrete statue's right arm before it snaps and the person falls to the ground. The group then is seen leaving the plaza.

While the concrete separated, the arm remains attached to the 84-year-old, 18-foot-tall statue by embedded rebar. The adjacent Babe the Blue Ox statue was not damaged. Both statues are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Police are asking the public for help in identifying the vandals. Meanwhile, the statue site is closed to visitors for safety reasons.

“Our priority remains to repair Paul as quickly as possible,” Bemidji Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson said in a news release. “This spring the city hired Jensen Conservation to complete conservation work on Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Jensen Conservation has changed their schedule and plans be to on-site by next week to assess and fix the damage to Paul and conduct the additional conservation work planned for Paul and Babe.”

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