Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Don't Climb the Monster!

Minne the Lake Creature, a fortean sculpture that moves to a different lake in Minneapolis every summer, is being taken in early from Lake Calhoun this year. The sculpture is made from fiberglass and patterned after the famous surgeon's photo of the Loch Ness monster, which was revealed as a hoax back in 1994.

The photo was faked in 1934 using a tiny model of the creature, but the sculptors decided to build one that was life-sized for display. However, the problem this year is that Calhoun is a lake with a lot of canoe, kayak, and other un-motorized boat traffic, and people just couldn't resist the urge to paddle or swim out to the sculpture and climb all over it.

Minne is the Twin Cities’ only annual floating sculpture. The Parks Foundation first introduced Minneapolis to the Lake Creature in 2009, purchased the sculpture in 2010, and today manages Facebook and Twitter personas (@LakeCreature), which have grown to nearly 5,000 followers combined.

In May, the Parks Foundation invited the public to choose Minne’s 2015 aquatic abode; Lake Calhoun won in a popular vote. At more than five million visits annually, the Chain of Lakes Regional Park is one of the most popular destinations in Minneapolis, with people of all ages and cultures taking part in both land and water activities. Lake Calhoun is the most active in the regional park and boasts biking and walking trails, three beaches, a yacht club, watercraft rental and a restaurant. Minne’s Loch Ness Monster-like appearance created moments of unexpected whimsy for park-goers, and the sculpture quickly became a must-see selfie destination for trail users and paddlers.

“Lake Calhoun embraced Minne the Lake Creature like no other lake – a bit too literally, at times,” says Tom Evers, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, who notes that as many as three people at a time were witnessed climbing on the Lake Creature this summer. “We want people to engage with Minne from a safe distance because it’s a sculpture, not a climbing structure. It’s better for both Minne and Minneapolitans.”

And this is why we can't have nice things, folks. A handful of idiots can ruin it for everyone else with comparative ease. I suppose I could be smug that nothing like this happened when the statue was put on display in Powderhorn Lake near my home, but the reality is that Powderhorn doesn't have anywhere near the traffic Calhoun does. So statistically speaking, with more people in the water the dumbass subset was bound to emerge.

This makes me sad, both because I won't be able to see the monster for the rest of the summer and because too many of my fellow humans either just don't give a damn or fail to understand that artwork is generally not designed for climbing. See you next year, Minne! Hopefully wherever you wind up folks will treat you better.

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