Clifford Sketches

Faith Brautigam, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library director, with two sketches by Norman Bridwell.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is big in Kokomo, Indiana — figuratively and potentially literally, if Lisa Fipps ever gets her way.

Kokomo is the hometown of children’s author Norman Bridwell, Clifford’s creator, who died Dec. 12 at the age of 86.

One of the ideas Fipps, the director of marketing and community engagement for the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library in Kokomo, Indiana, has to honor Bridwell’s legacy?

A life-sized Clifford.

Though her plan for an approximately two-story metal sculpture of the beloved big red dog are far from official consideration, Fipps, who interviewed Bridwell several times as a former journalist, says she envisions possibly soliciting help from local businesses. 

In the meantime, she hopes to help the library establish a dedicated Clifford collection. Several of Bridwells original illustrations are on display at the library, as well as at area elementary schools where Bridwell, who lived in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts since 1969, would occasionally speak to students over the years. Last year, the library threw the character a birthday party celebrating 50 year since the publication of the first Clifford book.

Other tributes to Bridwell can be seen throughout Kokomo – in 2009, the city installed a denoting Kokomo as the hometown of the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” author along US Highway 31 – but Fipps’ idea for a tribute could likely be seen for miles.

Fipps acknowledges that the sculpture would likely be a tourist attraction, “but I’m not doing it for that,” she says.

“It would be for honoring him (Bridwell), to make people understand that even if you’re a little town you can still make a big difference, a big impact," she said. "I would love for it to happen."


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