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Happy 35th birthday, big guy!

By Staff | Jul 9, 2014

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Green Giant statue standing proudly over the city of Blue Earth. There will be a party in the Giant’s honor at the Giant Park this Friday night, July 11.

The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with a free-will offering concert by singer/songwriter/guitarist Chad Elliot and continues with games and music, a ribbon cutting and more.

Special guest will be Paul Hedberg, who first had the idea of creating a statue of the Green Giant as a tourist attraction for the city of Blue Earth.

The following is the story of the Giant which is from the current issue of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Official Visitor’s Guide.

The Green Giant Statue

The Jolly Green Giant, a symbol of the long-standing association of the City of Blue Earth with the Green Giant/Seneca Company, was erected in 1979. It was entirely paid for by private donations from a few local businesses.

Rising out of a sea of corn and peas against the disappearing horizons swirling around Blue Earth, Minnesota, is the world’s tallest statue of the Jolly Green Giant. The Giant looks out over some of the richest farm land in the world. His legendary “Ho, Ho, Ho” has boomed over the rolling farmlands of the Blue Earth Area since July 6, 1979.

Conceived of by former KBEW Radio Station owner, Paul C. Hedberg, and created by Creative Displays, Inc. of Sparta, Wis., the 55.5 foot statue stands as a monument to ingenuity while it honors the largest producer of corn and peas, known locally as Seneca Foods.

Back in 1926, the Blue Earth Canning Company harvested its first pack of cream style corn. Three years later, in 1929, the Cannery became a subsidiary of Minnesota Valley Canning, of LeSueur. In 1950, the corporation adopted a new name, Green Giant. Green Giant was then purchased by Pillsbury, then by Grand Met, and most recently General Mills.

In 1978, Hedberg hatched the idea of erecting a Jolly Green Giant statue as a tourist attraction to the thousands of travelers that pass by on Highway 169 and Interstate 90. In one week’s time Hedberg had raised 100 percent of the $50,000 estimated for the statue’s cost by obtaining donations through private industry. Donors included Blue Earth Industrial Service Company, Blue Earth Lumber Company, Blue Earth Medical Center, Blue Earth State Bank, First National Bank, KBEW, L&M Motors, Tafco Equipment Company, Blue Earth Valley Telephone Company and the White House Steak House. The Green Giant Company donated no funds, but agreed to landscape a park surrounding the statue.

In less than eight weeks during the summer of 1978, Creative Displayshad created the world’s only Jolly Green Giant Statue. Two days after he arrived in Blue Earth, the statue was unveiled as he temporarily hung by a crane to preside over the dedication of I-90 on September 23. (This dedication signified the completion and meeting place of the world’s longest interstate and originally had gold paint from Germany in the concrete to make the connecting places where the east coast and the west coast were officially joined.)

Following the donation of a base by a local contractor, Ankeny and Wiederholt, the Jolly Green Giant was permanently erected July 6, 1979, on a patch of land at the end of the beautiful Faribault County Fairgrounds.

His dimensions are staggering. The numbers are impressive. The 47.5 foot statue sits atop an eight foot base, bringing his total height to 55.5 feet. His six foot long feet wear size 78 shoes. His smile stretches 48 inches and he weighs 8,000 pounds. He was fashioned from fiberglass, painted two tones of green, and cost $43,000 to manufacture.

Every winter since 1984, the town celebrates the coming winter holidays with the traditional “Scarfing Ceremony.” A huge red scarf is tied around his neck to prepare him for the cold Minnesota winter.

With the friendly Jolly Green Giant greeting visitors to this charming community of about 4,000, you’ll want to be sure to stop for a visit.