Down East 2013 ©
In many cities, municipal governments have to worry about things like drive-by shootings, road rage, and freeway congestion. In Bangor the concerns are a bit different.
The talk at recent Queen City council meetings has been about a dress code — for a certain thirty-one-foot-tall lumberman. After long and serious deliberations, it seems red plaid shirts, knit caps, and dark logging pants are acceptable for the city’s Paul Bunyan statue. It’s the outfit he’s worn for close to forty years. But he is not allowed, under any circumstances, to wear anything else. Especially not slogan-bearing T-shirts.
The issue came into question when a local radio station asked permission to dress the city-owned giant in a T-shirt reading: “Welcome to Bangor, Mr. Imus,” in honor of a scheduled visit by controversial radio personality Don Imus. The I-Man, known for his strong opinions and frequent insults, planned to broadcast a late October show from the Bangor Civic Center, which sits behind Paul Bunyan, and the host station thought it would be nice to have the city icon extend a greeting.
Mayor Patricia Blanchette would have none of it, calling Imus “rude, crude, and very offensive,” and the council was asked to come up with a statute that would govern use of the statue. (Imus, in turn, spent part of his nationally syndicated show lambasting the mayor of Bangor.) According to City Manager Edward Barrett, the council “adopted a policy that does not allow for the use of our public monuments for any advertising or promotional purposes.”
The city manager notes that in his ten years working for Bangor he can remember only one other occasion where Bunyan donned togs for an event. “There was a Shriners convention in the city, and they put a fez on his head.” Nevermore.
(Published November 1997)