This computer-generated drawing, above, depicts what the Pelican River will look like, with hydrologically designed “rock rapids” controlling water flow through the former damsite. Pelican Pete will be positioned on a new platform, on the opposite side of the river.

The recent series of photos and videos showing Pelican Pete leaving his long-standing post on the river elicited a surprisingly visceral response from my soul. And judging by the deluge of comments on social media, I’m not alone. 

Oh my, it’s really happening. We’ve read about it for a year, but seeing all 15 feet of Pete strapped in the air above the dam was something different again. 

They better know what they’re doing. An oddly maternal instinct kicked in, leaving me strangely worried and fretful about Pete’s temporary home and care. He is, after all, just a statue, a piece of concrete. 

Did he really look so bad? After all, Pete and I are the same age and share the same birthday week. If he needs a facelift, what does that say about me?

He’s always been there. Pete has stood watch as we dragged main, fished in the river, swam in the mill pond, and checked our mail at the post office. He has seen funeral processions and homecoming parades. He’s watched businesses come and go and people, too. He’s hosted graduation and birthday parties and even a few weddings. He’s the keeper of secrets and the destiny of tourists around the country. 

If you are one of those folks with that odd feeling that something is terribly off, good for you. You get it. You care about something bigger than yourself. It’s that place in your heart called home. 

Let’s be patient. He’ll be back to watch over us for the next century. And by most accounts, better than ever. 

Pete is us. And we are Pete. 

Kim Pederson
Pelican Rapids Press contributor