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Vergas loon celebrates 50 years

The Vergas Loon stands watch over Long Lake near Vergas, Minn. The loon is 50 years old this year. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

A local feathered friend and iconic landmark is celebrating its 50th birthday this week.

The Vergas loon was officially dedicated on June 30, 1963. In celebration of this milestone, the Miss Vergas and Princess Altona Scholarship Programs are throwing a “Look Who’s Turning 50!” party on June 29 at 7 pm in the Vergas Event Center.

According to Melissa Bunkowske, a coordinator of the event and director of the Princess Altona program, the loon was originally constructed in memory of Ewald Krueger, a postmaster in Vergas.

“For many years he took it upon himself to care for Long Lake Park,” Bunkowske said of Krueger’s passion for tending the flowers and cleaning up trash in the area.  

The Vergas community recognized Krueger’s memory and dedication to Long Lake Park through a collaborative effort to create the loon.

Construction was spearheaded by four local men — Roger Hanson, Gordon Dahlgren, Roy Bruhn, and Calvin Berven.

The Vergas Fire Department also played a major role, contributing the first $100 toward the cause, while the community chipped in and donated time and materials.

The idea for the huge statue came from the loon’s status as Minnesota’s state bird, and the large population of local loons.

“The Vergas loon has become iconic,” Bunkowske said of the much beloved symbol of the city. The loon towers at 20 feet tall, establishing Vergas as home to the largest loon in the world.

The entire community is embracing the celebration, and many stores will be offering sales and promotions.

Shirts in a wide range of sizes will be for sale surrounding the loon’s birthday, and can be purchased for $10 from the Vergas Liquor Store, the Quiet Cricket, and through Melissa Bunkowske. They depict an image of the loon, as well as the quote “It took 50 years to look this good!”

Those who purchase a shirt are encouraged to gather on June 29 at 4 pm in front of the loon for a community picture.

The party itself will be 1960s themed in honor of the era of the loon’s dedication. The event will be freewill donation, and will feature a ‘60s themed variety show with a look back at the historical events surrounding the loon’s creation.

A picture presentation will also “pay homage to those that helped get it going,” Bunkowske said of the loon’s construction.

And of course, what birthday party is complete without cake? Black and white cupcakes will be served at this celebration of community, history, and the giant loon that ties it all together.

“The celebration is really about community service. The whole event is about those who donated their time and those who continue to,” Bunkowske said of the legacy of Postmaster Krueger, those that constructed the loon 50 years ago, and the Vergas community’s continued efforts in the present and future.

For information about the shirts or the event, contact Melissa Bunkowske at 218-234-1175, or at

Article written by Libby Larson of Detroit Lakes Newspapers