Bigfoot — real or not — named ‘official animal’ of Marion, NC. Celebration Saturday.

A North Carolina mountain community that gained national attention last year for a reported Bigfoot sighting is proclaiming the mythical creature its “official animal.”

Marion town officials say the proclamation is largely ceremonial, but serves as acknowledgment that elements of the community believe the mythical animal actually exists.

Mayor Stephen Little admits in the fine print that he’s never actually seen a Bigfoot, but he says anyone coming to Marion might see one.

The proclamation takes effect Sept. 8, the same day Marion is hosting a Bigfoot festival that intends to assemble an abundance of documentation “proving” the creature’s existence. Including eyewitness accounts, videos of sightings and audio of Bigfoot sounds, festival officials said.

“Well, we thought the (proclamation) idea was different,” Town Manager Bob Boyette told The Charlotte Observer. “Who is to say what’s out there? Nobody knows for sure, and there are some smart people who are convinced it’s real.”

LiveScience.com describes Bigfoot — also known as Sasquatch — as “a giant ape-like creature.”

Read Next

Experts say belief in Bigfoot is based mostly on circumstantial evidence, including eyewitness sightings, blurred photographs and mysterious large footprints. Scientists say many of the witnesses mistook other animals for a Bigfoot, LiveScience says.

Among those who are convinced Bigfoot is out there is John Bruner, who is both a reported Bigfoot witness and the founder of the research group called Bigfoot 911. His group is the driving force behind the upcoming festival.

Bruner told The Charlotte Observer he pitched the idea of naming Bigfoot as Marion’s official animal after seeing the town of Whitehall, New York, did something similar in July. Whitehall also claims to have had Bigfoot sightings.

He believes the proclamation validates the ongoing research his group does, while also showing support for the upcoming festival. The event will take up three city blocks and include everything from Bigfoot art to a Bigfoot calling contest.

Read Next

Bigfoot 911 is a volunteer group based in McDowell County that investigates Bigfoot sightings in Western North Carolina. Bruner was out with the group last August when he says he spotted a Bigfoot in a forested area, shortly before midnight.

He described it as a large creature “covered in hair.” It began running, and Bruner said he took off after it, prompting a brief stare-down by a tree. It then began running again, Bruner said.

His reported sighting got national attention, and one “shaman” from Minnesota later said he was in the area at the same time, dressed in animal skins, and might have been mistaken for Bigfoot. However, his account didn’t quite match up with Bruner’s.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs