Those fuzzy, sometimes feathered, always entertaining and delightfully goofy characters known as the Muppets just keep rolling with the flow in Minot.
Among the mixed up gang stuffed into a lengthy canoe on the Souris River are Big Bird, Snuffleupagus, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Miss Piggy. No foolin'.
They are there all right, for anyone to see and visit. Yes, your Muppet favorites from television and the big screen even survived Minot's horrendous 2011 flood. So, too, did their sturdy canoe.
The Muppets as they appeared May 25, 2011, on a concrete structure located near Nubbin Park. The mural disappeared under rising water a few days later.
The Muppets as they appear today, slightly dirty from muddy water marks but otherwise in pre-flood condition. Nubbin Park is in the background.
Impossible? Not for these rugged Muppets, but they aren't making much progress either. They are, you see, painted on a white concrete wall that is City of Minot property. On occassion the bottom of their canoe sits at the water line of the Souris, giving the impression that the Muppets are riding the current downstream.
This gathering of assorted odd creatures remained well above the water line prior to the initial stages of runoff preceding the 2011 flood. As the river rose to meet the bottom of their craft, the Muppets mural became a rather curious and ingenious river gauge. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the beloved Muppets disappeared under the murky water of the rapidly rising Souris.
For several weeks their fate was unknown as the Souris engaged in its ugly prank, but these Muppets would prove to be remarkably resilient. Slowly they began to emerge from the deep as the muddy Souris began its long awaited decline. First the top of Big Bird's head could be seen, then Snuffleupagus and then the remaining cohorts.
Later it became apparent the Muppets had remained safely seated in their extended canoe and showed little wear from their long episode beneath the water. Not even a rampaging river could erase the loveable entertainers.
Now, approaching nearly two years after the historic flood, the Muppets remain clinging to their wall. Dirty water lines have tainted them slightly, and they are partially obscured by weeds growing along the riverbank. Nevertheless, there they are, symbols of survival of the great flood of 2011.
The location of the Minot Muppets is on the southern edge of Nubbin Park, a little known park located immediately northeast of little known Cedon Drive. Perhaps the best view of the Muppets is from atop the dike that protects little known Riverside Park. The location can also be pinpointed by looking west from the closed pedestrian bridge on Eighth Street Northwest.
How the Muppets got there and how long they will remain is unknown.
Alan Walter, who recently retired from Minot's Public Works Department, was familiar with the concrete structure containing the Muppets but didn't have any idea when the mural may have appeared.
"I remember somebody mentioning them before, but I think it was after the flood." said Walter. "I'm just not sure on that."
Ron Merrit, Minot Parks director, paused after being asked if he knew about the Muppets on the wall near Nubbin Park.
"No", responded Merrit. "I don't know anything about it. Maybe our guys have seen it."
The "guys" probably had not, at least they weren't forthcoming to The Minot Daily News with any additional information.
The concrete structure on which the Muppets can been seen is a City of Minot pump station that moves water from a dead loop in the river near Nubbin Park. The city is responsible for painting and maintaining the structure.
"Do we some graffiti out there?" asked Jason Sorenson, assistant public works director when asked about his knowledge of the Muppets hanging out near Nubbin Park.
The city applies new paint to such structures before they begin to take on a decrepit appearance. However, a new paint job would mean covering up the beloved Muppets. Will the city risk the wrath of Muppet lovers everywhere and unceremoniously do to the Muppets what the great flood of 2011 could not? Clearly, a major dilemma is looming at City Hall.
Calls to the official Muppet office for response to the remarkable survival of the indomitable mural and its possible fate had not been returned as of press time.