Tiger statues populate South Hadley


Kyle Pease

A South Hadley tiger featured outside the high school.

Kyle Pease

If you live in town, it’s likely you’ve seen the tiger statues popping up around town. The glossy finished, painted fiberglass statues have been a long time coming in the South Hadley Tiger Committee’s project to unify the community under the one symbol.

Three years ago, the tiger committee was formed with one goal in mind: to unite South Hadley under tiger mascot. With some fundraising, the committee, made up of volunteers such as Mrs. Carver and Mr. Gardner, raised $4,000 from many in the community to build the statues. The committee then sent the money to Patrick Kiel of American Fiberglass Animals in Nebraska and waited for the tigers to arrive. And waited, and waited. After a year of waiting with no word from Kiel, the tiger committee came to the conclusion that they wouldn’t be receiving the promised statues.

At a crossroads, the committee faced the decision of whether to move on and find a new vendor, or abandon the project altogether. Obviously, based on the tigers popping up all over the town, the committee decided to move on and raise more money to continue the project. Through more community fundraising as well as donations from private parties as well as the Town Reminder, the money was raised and given to ICON Poly, a company which has made other statues for nearby towns (Dinosaurs in Stanford, CT.) The town was finally going to get its tigers. Now, there are a total of 14 tigers dotted around town. Many came together for the entire project, from the community fundraising to the volunteers working on the tiger committee, and the artists who used their own supplies to paint the statues, to a local body shop who offered to clear-coat the statues for free for weather protection and wear and tear.

One tiger that everyone at the high school is familiar with is the one out front near the LED sign, which was created by art teacher Maureen McNally’s students. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the process, students said, was coming up with a creative theme. One side of the tiger represents “what is,” while the other side stands for “what could be.” The goal behind the design was to represent everyone in the tiger, seen by the four different shoes on its feet. Influenced by the phrase “walk a mile in my shoes,” the high school’s tiger sports a sneaker, work boot, Ugg, and L.L. Bean boot on its paws.