Legendary Hairy Man ‘adopted’ by Pelican High School to advocate positive mental attitude and big ideas on improving school, society as a whole

“Harry,” the legendary “Vergas Hairy Man” was adopted at Pelican Rapids High School to promote “Big Hairy Audacious Vision.” This iron likeness of the legendary Vergas Big Foot, is pictured with Dean of Students Doug Bruggeman, who conceived the idea of big, positive goals for the year—for both students and staff. “We’re using Harry to help make the school better,” said Bruggeman. Unlike the elusive Vergas Sasquatch, Pelican wants all students to be “seen, known and loved,” with lots of encouragement and positive mental attitudes.

The “Vergas Hairy Man” has extended his range; southerly and westerly.

The legendary Big Foot has been adopted at Pelican Rapids High School, as a big, symbolic motivator for positive mental attitude and big “hairy” visions for the future. 

Not unlike other species—timber wolves, moose and bright red cardinal songbirds—the mythic Vergas forest walker has roamed farther for food and forage. Climate change is also believed to be a factor in his wider geographic patterns. 

Home base for Hairy Man is in the “Klondike,” northwest of Vergas. Most sightings over the past six decades have been in the remote woodlands, which have been informally named “The Klondike” by Vergas folks. 

Unconfirmed sightings of this abominable snowman have even come in from the Lake Lida area, the bogs and wetlands north of Scambler Town Hall and even the fringe wooded areas near Fish Lake on the Pelican chain of lakes. But, the elusive Hairy Man always works his way back to the Vergas Klondike. 

Pelican Rapids High School was been home to a famous likeness of “Harry” the Vergas Hairy Man for more than a month. 

Vergas Big Foot a visual symbol for Pelican school 

The Vergas sasquatch has become the mascot for a motivational initiative, schemed up by Dean of Students Doug Bruggeman. 

“He’s on a mission to inspire students, teachers and staff to make changes that will make their lives, and the lives of others, better,” wrote Bruggeman. His initiative evolved into, BHAV (Big Hairy Audacious Vision).

“The vision for Pelican High School is big … it may be as elusive as finding Big Foot but persuing this vision is time well spent!” wrote Bruggeman, who is capitalizing on “Harry the Hairy Man” to challenge everybody to be “better than they were the day before.”

Known for his creative approach to inspiring and motivating students and staff alike, Bruggeman’s imagination landed on something big, something hairy, something audacious.

“The Vergas Hairy Man has been the ‘hide and seek champion of the world,’” said Bruggeman. “But he’s a misunderstood character….He’s a creature that wants to spread love.”

Hairy Man has become honorary—though elusive Vergas citizen

Pelican school’s “Big Harry Audacious Vision” campaign, with the Vergas Hairy Man as the inspirational symbol, was the subject of a news feature on Channel 3 “Vergas Show.” Being filmed here for the program, Dean of Students Doug Bruggeman and Sherry Hanson, of the Vergas Commercial Club. With COVID, the political dissent, and the negative trends in society, said Bruggeman, Harry “ultimately challenges us to strive to be better than we were the day before.”

Sightings of the gorilla-sized creature have also motivated Vergas to “adopt” the Hairy Man. There are souvenirs sold in Vergas, t-shirts, and other items—and the “I Outran the Hairy Man” is an annual 5K fun run each autumn. This led to the iron Hairy Man sculpture, which has been positioned at various spots around Vergas and, since Nov. 1, he’s been lurking around the Pelican High School campus.

Connections were made between Bruggeman and Vergas-boosters Sherry Hanson and Darren Berube—both with Vergas State Bank and Vergas Insurance Agency. Hanson, Berube and the Vergas Commercial Club have led the effort to build the “Hairy Man” brand for community identity and tourism marketing—not to mention local mythology. 

Vergas has the distinction of not one, but two community “mascots.” The claimed “World’s Largest Loon” overlooks Long Lake on the northeast side of town. The second—the Hairy Man…who…is…all over the place. From the Vergas Klondike to the backwoods around Spanky’s restaurant. 

Artist Pat Shannon, of Forest Edge Gallery, created an iron Sasquatch figure which has been placed all around Vergas—to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Shannon’s sculpture was painstakingly created from various eyewitness accounts of the Hairy Man. Shannon’s art work appears randomly, from the Vergas Park to the Vergas trails to downtown—just like the Big Foot character himself, appearing, disappearing, reappearing. 

Hairy Man has been lurking school halls—in full view 

The immense, heavy art was “on loan” to the Pelican High school, November to mid-December. He’s been spotted in the cafeteria, the library and other corners of the campus. 

“We got a call from Doug at Pelican school, asking if he could ‘borrow’ the hairy man,” said Hanson, who was delighted with the notion of using the Hairy Man as an inspiration for “Big Hairy Audacious Vision” for the Pelican schools. “I thought, what a great opportunity to connect the two communities—in a positive way.”

Vergas and Pelican have had a bond over the decades.  The Vergas area is near school district boundaries, so generations of kids have traveled west to school in Pelican. And, of course, there are many, many reports of “intermarriage” between Vergas and Pelican area brides and grooms. 

 Senior loan officer at Vergas State Bank, Darren Berube, is a guy with “one foot in Vergas; and one foot in Pelican,” so he understands the connections. 

“This is about positive choices,” said Berube, whose children attended the Pelican schools. “If the Hairy Man is used to motivate kids to make positive choices; with good attitudes and treating each other with respect—the Vergas Hairy Man is happy to help.”