Otto the Otter in Fergus Falls, Minnesota

In the county seat of Otter Tail County, the town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, offers a real otter tale: the world’s largest. For more than 50 years, Otto has stood sentry over Grotto Lake, as the beloved mascot of the city.

Like most great works of art, Otto began his life as a high school shop project, the brainchild of shop teacher Tom Willett, who wanted to create something special for Fergus Falls’s centennial in 1972. Unfortunately, the first version of Otto was…an otter disaster. Steve Jaenisch, a metal artist who went on to create a number of sculptures around town, finished the job and made sure Otto would last for generations to come.

Today, the 40-foot-long otter sculpture stands proudly in Adams Park, overlooking the lake. The quaint city park also includes a ballfield, a playground, and picnic tables, including one that is often placed tantalizingly close to Otto.

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