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A heartfelt response to the return of the otter

From Phillip Pierce:
This is Ohana. Ohana means family.
Ohana the Otter has been a member of my family since Fall 2021, when the work began between the City of Fredericksburg and Fredericksburg Downtown (a not-for-profit organization that is a chapter of the Main Street America program) to establish a fun way to inform residents and tourists about our City and the Rappahannock River while encouraging movement around town. This initiative became the “Otter-ly Amazing Fredericksburg Project” – and you can read all about it here:
Unfortunately, over the weekend Ohana was vandalized – and then in a separate incident – taken from her rocks on Charles Street. I would like say THANK YOU to Main Street and Christopher Allen for quickly spreading the word. THANK YOU to the Fredericksburg Police Department, to Visit Fredericksburg, Virginia, to On The Fredericksburg Va Trails & Kevin Brown, to 7News DC, to B101.5 and the hundreds of people who shared the information on their pages and took time to provide meaningful assistance in encouraging Ohana’s recovery.
Yesterday afternoon we were all filled with joy to hear that the young man who took Ohana stepped forward, apologized, and brought her home. As you can see in these photos, Ohana means a lot to us: I was so happy to share my birthday last year with the City’s ribbon cutting at Riverfront Park to unveil the statues. My boys saw Ohana “come to life” when we went on a New Year’s Day field trip to Maymont. A few weeks after that trip, the boys even thought it was appropriate to include Ohana in our family’s newest baby photo reveal.
I think what hit me the hardest this weekend was how much the Otters mean to our City residents. So many people played an important role in this project, (Steven & Stewart Wegner Wegner Metal Arts, Pete Morelewicz Print Jazz, April Peterson River Rock Outfitter, Bart Goldberg, Friends of the Rappahannock, George Barnick Fredericksburg Technology, many many fellow Rotarians – Rappahannock Fredericksburg Rotary Club, Fredericksburg, Virginia Economic Development & Tourism, Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation & Events, Fredericksburg Arts Commission, and so many others…) these folks take pride in the Otter Project, but for our entire community of Fredericksburg, Virginia to sound the alarm when something happens to the Otter family it’s a spirit lifting testament to what makes this place so wonderful. To work here, play here, raise a family here – it’s all the same reasons why my parents – David & Anne – wanted to be a part of the Otter vision in the first place. This is a special community…
Which brings me to my final point. Thanks, if you are still reading this short novel! 😅
This is a special community, so when someone in our community makes a mistake let’s pause for a moment… and see what happens next. It was Confucius who said “if you make a mistake and do not correct it, THIS is called a mistake.” I was proud to see a young person (which all three Pierce brothers were once upon a time) admit they made a mistake, take accountability, and apologize for it. That’s how my parents, Ohana’s benefactors, raised us.
And, more importantly, when you are on the other end of someone’s mistake let’s remember that we’ve too fallen short at times. My parents taught Randall, Michael and me that empathy, grace, and forgiveness are not just words we hear in church but actual values we try to live by and offer to all. If Ohana could speak, I think she would agree…
Thanks again to everyone! It’s been a wild weekend and a rollercoaster of emotions, but as far as I am concerned,
“don’t worry. about a thing. cause every little thing. gonna be alright.”
Photos courtesy Phillip Pierce
Go here if you would like to learn more about the Otterly Amazing Fredericksburg Project:

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