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Pequot Lakes auto body business repairs Confidence Learning Center statues

Peanuts statues are one of the first things campers see upon arrival.

Peanuts statues 1 moving Charlie Brown statue
A Charlie Brown statue is carefully returned to its pedestal at Confidence Learning Center in East Gull Lake in June 2020 after being restored by Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes.
Contributed / Confidence Learning Center

EAST GULL LAKE — One of the first things campers see when they arrive at Confidence Learning Center in East Gull Lake are Linus, Lucy and Charlie Brown.

Some campers like to hug the statues at the entry to the facility and get photos. Over the years, those statues were starting to look a little weathered.

"(They were) faded, chipping, peeling on the outside," said Sarah Smith, Confidence Learning Center marketing and event director. "Minnesota has a lot of different weather elements. They just started deteriorating a little bit so it was time for them to be restored."

Peanuts statues 2 Linus statue
Over the years, this Linus statue lost its shine and needed repairs. In January 2020, Linus and two other Peanuts statues were sent to Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes to be repaired.
Contributed / Confidence Learning Center

The statues have been at Confidence Learning Center since the early 2000s. It was then that Jack Norqual, a longtime supporter, bought them from a promotion in the Twin Cities and donated them to Confidence Learning Center, a camp that serves people of all ages with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Peanuts statues 3 statue of Charlie Brown
Over years of being outside, this Charlie Brown statue outside Confidence Learning Center had lost its shine, and Charlie's stocking cap was hard to recognize. The statue was sent to Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes in January of 2020 for repairs.
Contributed / Confidence Learning Center

The statues were made by artists and put on display in the Twin Cities after Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, died in 2000. After being on display, many were auctioned at the Mall of America and Norqual picked up Linus and Charlieof for Confidence Learning Center. Lucy was found in a garage by a real estate agent who donated it to the camp.

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Peanuts statues 4 Linus, Charlie Brown and Lucy
After roughly six months of restoration by Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes, Linus, Charlie Brown and Lucy were brought back to Confidence Learning Center in East Gull Lake in June 2020 with new, shiny coats of paint.
Contributed / Confidence Learning Center

The statues have been a popular feature ever since. Smith said volunteers George and Arlene Sylvestra regularly performed touch-up on the statues and ultimately arranged for their restoration.

Peanuts statues 5 unloading a Linus Statue
In June of 2020 a crew returns Linus to his home at Confidence Learning Center after being restored at Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes over the past six months.
Contributed / Confidence Learning Center

"Each year they would touch up the paint or anything they saw on the Peanuts characters," Smith said. "Finally, they said they needed a good overhaul and that's how the ball kind of got rolling."

Volunteers from the camp got in touch with Crow Wing Auto Body in Pequot Lakes.

"We take projects like that every once in a while," said Greg Seils, owner of Crow Wing Auto Body. "They were getting pretty weathered and cracked. We had to grind them all down and fiberglass and epoxy them, prime them. A lot of parts on them were broken and we had to make new parts."

Seils said one employee, Bruce Thramer, took the project mostly under his wing and worked on it for roughly six months. Seils estimates there were likely 600-800 hours of work put into the statues.

After the bodies had been repaired, employee Trevor Lang repainted them and then retired Pequot Lakes High School teacher Dave Guenther did the finishing touches, adding lettering and small details. Among those details was the Camp Confidence Logo, previously missing from the old paint job. They were brought back to the camp around June 2020.

"They are in amazing condition," Smith said.

"Before this I didn't know how important these were at the camp," Seils said. "Afterwards I see kids get off the bus when they get to camp and one of the first things they do is run up and hug them and get pictures taken with them. It's kind of a focal point of camp and I didn't realize that before. Ever since I feel more proud of it."

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"It's amazing to see what our campers noticed and felt," Smith said. "They came in and they had smiles because they noticed right away. They got excited to see them and all of the sudden were taking pictures with them again. Everyone who comes wants their picture with the Peanuts characters, and to see that really put a smile on everyone's faces."

Confidence Learning Center has been in operation nearly 53 years. The 140-acre property hosts campers of all ages with cognitive and developmental disabilities. The camp can host up to 126 campers.

These Peanuts statues were designed by artist Bob Perrizo, according to information Smith shared.

Seils said with the new restoration work, the statues should last for many years before they need repairs again.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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