Reedley College’s Clyde the Tiger regain his stripes

Reedley College puts $10,000 investment into restoring Clyde the Tiger instead of removing the statue all together

(Rigo Moran)
Derek Fleming
Published May 24, 2024  • 
2:30 pm

REEDLEY – Clyde the Tiger has greeted students and visitors to the Reedley College campus for 65 years, but in recent decades, layers of paint and neglect had left the once-proud mascot looking worn out.

In January, the college launched a restoration project to bring Clyde back to his former glory. The campus hired local outfit Baldwin Painting to carry out the restoration. Owner Ira Baldwin and his team spent a few months stripping layers of paint, sanding and staining Clyde to give him back his stripes. 

The final step was to coat the redwood carving in boiled linseed oil, five gallons of it. Baldwin explained that the coating will deeply penetrate the surface of the wood, protecting it from the weather, and making maintenance easier. Clyde will never need another coat of paint which was a goal of the project Reedley College Director of Marketing and Communications George Takata said in a telephone interview with the Mid-Valley Times. 

“There are some cracks still from wear because he is 65 years old, but he hasn’t looked this good in a long, long time,” Takata said. “Clyde is a landmark for this community, it is an iconic figure. There was a lot of speculation that we were going to remove him and replace him with something else, but that was never the plan. The plan was always to figure out a way to give him a makeover. We are happy with the results. Baldwin Painting did a great job.”

In all, the project cost $10,000 at least some of which was provided through donations. Reedley College has also hired Baldwin Painting for a five-year contract to provide maintenance so that Clyde continues to look his best for years to come. 

“It was something we had to do, otherwise, he was going to continue to deteriorate and then we would really had to have gotten rid of him,” Takata said. “We had to do something, so it was either pay the dollar amount and fix him up or don’t and face bigger problems in the future. I think the community is fine with the $10,000 cost.”

Takata added that the campus community has heard nothing but positive comments following the completion of the statue’s restoration. 

“We have had nothing but positive feedback, there were a lot of people who were afraid we were going to get rid of him,” Takata said. “People have come up to go on bike rides and said ‘wow, he looks great,’ because they have seen the whole process.”

The only comment Takata has heard that is even somewhat negative is that the statue is now darker than it used to be. He explained the darker color will fade over time and is a result of the linseed oil bath. He added that the color has already started to lighten up. 

The project was kicked off to have it completed before the campus’s 100th anniversary in 2026. Takata said the campus has also had miniature sculptures of Clyde that are highly detailed and accurate. The miniature models will be available to donors who donate $25 or more while supplies last. People who are interested can donate through the Reedley College website. 

Reedley College is one of the oldest community colleges in the region. Fresno City College was built in 1910 and Bakersfield College was built in 1913. Santa Barbara City College, founded in 1909, is the oldest community college according to the California Community College listing.

Derek Fleming