It’s no secret that Kodiak is known for its bears. But on a recent Saturday afternoon, residents gathered welcomed a very special one to town. KMXT’s Mitch Borden was there and has the story.
Paul Schervenak is excited to unveil a statue that’s been in the works for three years.
“The first thing I’d like to say is always dream big.”
It’s sunny as he addresses a crowd outside the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. They’re all waiting to see what this sculpture will look like.
“Kodiak, please welcome your new bear.”
A tarp is pulled away and reveals a tall, bronze, grizzly. Standing on its hind legs. The bear is huge. It towers over the crowd.
Now that it’s on display Schervenak is having a hard time finding the words to express how he’s feeling.
“It’s almost indescribable.”
He’s the chairman of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust and led the Rebuild The Bear Committee. They’ve been working on replacing the Madsen Bear, which is a statue that’s been a part of the local scenery for over 60 years.
The new sculpture is called the Community Bear and Kodiak resident David Brindle, who came out for the celebration with his son, says bears are tied to the identity of this place.
“I think the Bear symbolizes Kodiak. Like a lot of the speakers said, it’s a powerful animal and Kodiak Island is a powerful place.”
Sandy Solenberger, another resident, thinks the effort that brought this beautiful statue to Kodiak made this day special.
“Because of the number of people who got together who made it happen and the spectacular result.”
It’s a community event honoring a community bear, but Paul Schervenak says this statue also represents something else.
“For a lot of people, that don’t know or aren’t educated, think our bears are endangered or whatever. But they’re so well managed that the population is at an all-time high. We want them to know that they are healthy and we are looking out to do everything we can as move into the future to keep it that way.”
Like the Kodiak brown bear, Schervecak says this statue should be around for many years to come.