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Goldy Gopher greets visitors with a toothy smile

Associated Press

FREEBORN, Minn. — The big oak tree in the center of Jim Beach’s driveway was a Freeborn landmark for years, and that hasn’t changed since it died.

He had the trunk carved into a 12-foot statue of Goldy Gopher, the mascot for the University of Minnesota. Then he had it painted. The work finished up last week.

Now when people roll up Main Street in the small southern Minnesota town, they stop and take pictures.

Beach’s wife, Janice, says she leery at first, but she’s happy with how it turned out.

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If the statue doesn’t give it away, the Beaches are huge Minnesota fans. They’ve been season ticket holders for football games for 33 years.

Freeborn is about 10 miles northwest of Albert Lea.

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