Late Superintendent Ed Richardson’s likeness is visible from the air, at the Thea’s Pumpkin Patch corn maze for 2020. Brenda and Mike Olson have had various themes over the past five years—including Charlie Brown and Wizard of Oz. But this year, they created a memorial to Richardson, who died unexpectedly April 9. Note the maze includes one of Richardson’s favorite phrases, “Be Awesome Today,” and the Pelican Viking logo.

Pumpkin patch maze features likeness of Dr. Ed 

By Louis Hoglund

A tribute to a late Pelican Rapids school leader is so big you can’t really wrap your brain around it–unless you’re levitating about 150 feet off the ground. 

An autumn corn maze in rural Pelican is a birds-eye-view tribute to Dr. Ed Richardson, the beloved Pelican school principal and superintendent who died unexpectedly in April. 

A cornfield maze has been cultivated and created for five years at Thea’s Pumpkin Patch, southeast of Pelican off County Road 3. Past themes have ranged from Charlie Brown to the Wizard of Oz to a green and gold salute to the North Dakota State University Bison. 

This year is different. 

The late Dr. Richardson, who died unexpectedly in early April 2020, was also featured on the football field scoreboard last spring.

The Olson family created a maze design that memorializes their friend Ed Richardson. The design includes a likeness of Ed, adapted from a school yearbook photo. In addition, there are several pineapples visible in the maze layout. Pineapples became something of a “logo” for Ed, inspired by his special “Oh My Pineapple” award. A pineapple was presented, on a random basis, to staff and students for various good deeds. 

Following his untimely death, pineapples appeared all over the area. 

“Ed was so prevalent in our minds, and with me being on the school board—and being friends…it came up when we were tossing around ideas in May,” said Brenda Olson, who actually credits husband Mike with the initial thought of saluting Ed in the annual maze. “Ed was such a big loss for all of us.”

The idea was posed to Ed’s surviving family, Kim and Kayla. They approved enthusiastically. 

In addition to the late Ed Richardson, Brenda said it is also a tribute to the Class of 2020. 

The Olsons, who named the pumpkin patch after daughter Thea, will also feature an assortment of pineapple merchandise. Part of the proceeds from the patch and the souvenir sales this year will be donated to the Ed Richardson scholarship fund. 

This graphic is the “blueprint” for the tribute to Ed Richardson, at Thea’s Pumpkin Patch—a corn maze which is expected to open in the next two weeks.

Each spring, the Olsons work with a Utah-based firm, “The Maize” that has specialized in assisting landowners with corn mazes since 1996. Contributing to planting at Thea’s corn maze was the Thunder Seed. 

The pumpkin patch will be open, but there will be social distancing precautions. In fact, Brenda Olson believes it could be an exceptional year. Many families may bee seeking an opportunity to get out and about in the fall, and the patch and corn maze are a socially distanced recreation. 

Some of the games and activities will be limited or restricted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some aspects may be expanded—such as concessions, noted Brenda. 

“I think fall is going to be a great opportunity for people to come out with families, and still socially distance. We won’t be doing all the activities we’ve done in the past, but we are looking at adding a few others,” said Brenda.