MILLINOCKET, Maine — Rudy Pelletier was in an airport in Orlando, Fla., at the tail end of a well-deserved vacation recently, when a stranger asked him for an autograph. Shyly, and not able to conceal his surprise, Pelletier obliged.
“That sort of thing,” Pelletier remarked wryly, “happens to us all the time.”
The Town Council honored the Pelletiers on Thursday for doing for the town what the family’s Discovery Channel TV series “American Loggers” has done for the Pelletiers — made Millinocket and its forest products industry recognizable all over the nation.
Councilors and the resolve they approved 7-0 applauded the Pelletiers for providing positive publicity to this remote Katahdin region town and its rich industrial history, and for the Pelletiers’ success as a business.
“Not only do they have a great work ethic, but they have brought a lot of notoriety to the town of Millinocket, and that’s a good thing,” Councilor Jimmy Busque said, adding that the show captured how the town has “real jobs, with real people, producing a real product.”
Councilor James Madore praised the Pelletiers for what he called their genuinely modest and self-effacing demeanor.
“I want to thank you for what you have started. Millinocket has been blessed that you have chosen us to be your home,” Madore said.
“I have always had the feeling that hard work ought to be worth something. People who have their shoulder to the wheel, it means something, and it sure does in your case,” council Chairman Wallace Paul said. “This [TV show] is a great thing for you guys, but it’s what you have built for yourself that makes it the fun thing that it is.”
The family’s seven brothers accepted the certificate gratefully, expressing appreciation for the town’s support, with Eldon Pelletier joking that some of the scenes within the show are “modified.”
Since its debut on Discovery two months ago, the reality-TV program has used flashbacks and re-enactments to portray the personal and professional difficulties endured by the Pelletiers — a family of seven brothers and a host of grandchildren — as they struggle to keep their logging business going.
The work has been unforgiving, especially in this down economy, but Discovery has been appreciative. The network has asked for another full season, Eldon Pelletier said. He didn’t know how many shows that would mean, but the current season, which is due to end this summer, is 10 episodes.
The show’s Maryland-based production company, which approached the Pelletiers more than a year ago with the series idea, is negotiating with the landowners, upon whose land the loggers work, for permission for access to their land for another season, Eldon Pelletier said.
The show really hasn’t changed their lives much, Rudy Pelletier said.
“We still have to get up to go to work every day,” he said. “If we don’t go to work, there’s no show.”