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Canadian actor Steve Smith -- in character as Red Green -- autographs a roll of duct tape Sunday for Charlie and Kathi Kramer of Hinckley at Danny's Ace Hardware. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Red Green wraps up his Duluth visit with duct tape for fans

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Within 15 minutes of Red Green's arrival at a Woodland hardware store Sunday afternoon, so many people had lined up to meet him that organizers were turning new arrivals away.

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The queue already was so long that fans of the quirky Canadian show would be lucky to make it to the front in the two hours allotted for the event at Denny's Ace Hardware.

Among the hundreds waiting their turn to meet Green was Gary Lundstrom of Duluth, who came with a chain saw and roll of duct tape in hand. Lundstrom hoped to have both items signed by the celebrity, keeping the saw for himself and presenting the autographed duct tape to his parents in honor of their 60th anniversary.

That's how deep the Lundstrom family's affection for the show runs.

"I've probably been watching the show for about 20 years now," Lundstrom said, saying it reminded him of home. "I was living in Denver when I first saw it, and it captured that Northland sense of humor so well. I really got a kick out of it, especially hearing the chain saws in the background all the time."

Sunday's crowd reflected the show's wide demographic appeal.

Jim Kaneski of Duluth and his 10-year-old grandson, Travis, waited patiently outside the hardware store in hopes of snagging Green's signature.

When asked why he liked the show, Travis offered a succinct explanation.

"It's funny," he said.

Clutching a signed roll of duct tape Sunday, Ellie Patronas, 8, said she enjoys Green's outlandish inventions, such as a rotating automated toilet cleaner, when she watches the show with her grandparents, Mike and Lani Kolanczyk of Superior.

"It hits close to home," said Jim Kaneski, describing why the down-to-earth program resonates for viewers of all ages. "It's nutty, but Red hits the nail right on the head sometimes."

Al Harmon, general manager of Northland PBS affiliates WDSE and WRPT, said reruns of the show continue to pull in healthy audiences, even though it has been six years since a new program was made.

"It's too bad they can't get everyone together for a new series of shows. I'd really like that," Lani Kolanczyk said.

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