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Officer pulls gun on Big Bird
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A stuffed animal version of Big Bird at Magness Library has created late-night alarm due to its size.
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Pat Bigbee

Pat Bigbee tells of the night there was thought to be an intruder at Magness Library:

Several years ago when I was chairman of the board of Magness Library, I received a phone call in the middle of the night. When I answered it, I could hear a deafeningly shrill noise in the background and a male voice telling me he was a policeman and was at the library.

He asked me to bring the library key so the police could enter and investigate. My husband Wally was ready to take me.

When we arrived, the library’s alarm siren was still screeching loudly. I gave the police the key, and two policemen went in to investigate. Wally and I waited expectantly and in about 10 minutes the policemen came back out empty-handed. No burglars to be found.

However, one of the policemen told me that as they were searching for outlaws with their guns out and ready for any discovery, one of the policemen had opened a closet door and come eye-to-eye with an occupant.

He said his reflex told him to shoot, but a second later he realized he was face-to-face with a life-size character from “Sesame Street,” Big Bird. 

We had a good laugh all around, and tensions were relieved. Bigbee says that all present were grateful the policeman had not opened fire on Big Bird and sent it to that big “Sesame Street” in the sky.

That was not the end of Big Bird’s mischief, however. Magness Library director Brad Walker reports an unfortunate incident that took place between him and the creature on another night. He was at the library late finishing up some work, and around 10:30 p.m. or so he rounded a corner, saw a hulking presence, shoved it into the wall and toppled it.

Walker says his staff had moved the animal to a new location without telling him, and that new positioning caught him by surprise and activated his “fight-or-flight” instincts.

In addition to that encounter, Magness Library custodian Willie Cameron apparently got physical with Big Bird during a night cleaning several years ago, when Big Bird caught him off-guard.

Magness Library’s Big Bird, with arms extended outward, cuts either a benevolent or a menacing figure, depending on the approaching person’s perspective. Approaching 5 feet tall, and sporting a yellow coat of fur and webbed orange feet, Big Bird has endured its share of abuse over the years. However, it can still be seen today in Magness Library’s children’s room as a welcoming symbol to the library.