Iconic statue in disrepair, owners search for solution

Paul Bunyan
The iconic Paul Bunyan statue has lost its arms and the owners have been trying to get them fixed but have not had any luck.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s a piece of Albuquerque’s history that’s literally falling apart. The eatery where the Paul Bunyan statue stands wants to bring the icon back to life. Yet, it’s turned out to be tougher than they imagined. High winds took down Bunyan’s arms and ax but, the fiberglass statue is so old, managers at the restaurant can’t find anyone to fix him.

“Can’t chop trees no more, I guess,” laughs local Miguel Acosta.

An Albuquerque icon is in disrepair.

“That’s crazy that his arms fell off,” says Albuquerque resident Justin Shareder.

It’s news to locals like Alonso Acosta.

“I haven’t noticed until, today,” says Acosta.

Yet, plenty of other people have.

“A lot of customers, they walk in the restaurant and be like, ‘hey what happened to the arms on the Paul Bunyan?'” says May Café Manager Tu Nguyen.

May Café is the restaurant at Louisiana and Central where the historic statue of of Paul Bunyan stands. The original statue was erected in the early 1960’s, atop a lumber company.

Nguyen says it’s been months since it was in one piece.

“One day we all came into work, customers came in and were like, ‘hey, what happened to your arms on Paul Bunyon?'” explains Nguyen.

But Nguyen didn’t believe them.

“So, we went out, we just look up, we like, ‘oh, what happened to the arms?'” says Nguyen.

He found the landmark’s missing pieces in an alley behind the restaurant. Nguyen says heavy winds took down the arms and ax during a storm last fall. So why hasn’t the lumberjack been repaired? Nguyen says it’s not for lack of trying.

“We called a couple companies but like, you know, to tell them to drop by and take a look and they just drop by and they don’t even say anything, no response. We give them a call, they don’t call back,” Nguyen explains. “They say they don’t try to work on the fiberglass or something like that.”

Nguyen even called the city. Representatives with the city’s public art program say their hands are tied. They say the program doesn’t have a way to accept those kinds of cultural landmarks into the program because they’re on private land, off-limits to public funds.

Yet, locals say there has to be a way.

“They should put them back,” says Ernest Tafoya.

Miguel Acosta agrees.

“They should get it fixed,” he said.

Shareder says the dilapidated statue makes the city look bad.

“They should be able to fix this. Either that or they should take the statue down altogether just because it kind of looks weird with his arms missing and stuff,” explains Shareder.

It’s unclear as to how much the statue weighs but, managers at the May Café say the whole thing will have to come down to repair the arms and ax.

A woman claiming to be the artist’s daughter says the original statue burned down in 1974. The one up now is actually a replacement. She says the one standing now was at first a chef, re-fashioned as lumberjack.

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