Paisano Pete

At 8:00 a.m., the sun still shining in my eyes, I slowly came to realize that I had driven over 300 miles to see a big fiberglass bird. But, you know, I wouldn't bother if I didn't love this stuff.

His name is Paisano Pete and he's the largest realistic roadrunner in the world. At 10 feet tall and 22 feet long, this guy is a challenge to even the most resourceful coyote.

Pete is unarguably one of the most recognizable roadside attractions in the Southwest. Family after family stop to grab a snapshot with Fort Stockton's feathered friend, and every third household in Texas has a picture somewhere of the kids standing at his feet.

The endless, camcorder-wielding tourists, incidentally, make for a continuous stream of sharp-witted remarks, such as the ever-popular "My, now that is a big bird," and the inspired "My. Now, that is a big bird." But Pete doesn't complain. From certain angles, he actually appears to like the attention.

Sure, he has no animatronics. He doesn't talk or pluck a huge rubber worm from the ground at the top of every hour. He offers no historical or educational significance. But he's darned big. And that's all that matters.

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