MARION, N.C. -- He goes by many different names and is feared by some, but in one North Carolina mountain town, Bigfoot is celebrated.

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The Charlotte Observer reports the town of Marion has proclaimed the elusive creature its "official animal," following a reported sighting last year.

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The largely ceremonial proclamation takes effect Sept. 8, the day of a Bigfoot festival that intends to assemble proof of the creature's existence.

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John Bruner is the founder of Bigfoot 911. He says he was with the group last August when they spotted a large creature "covered in hair" in a forested area. He pitched the proclamation to town officials after Whitehall, New York, did something similar in July.

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Mayor Stephen Little says he has yet to catch sight of Bigfoot, but anyone who visits Marion might see one.