Have you seen the pink elephants? No, really. They are out there. We discovered our first pink elephant on a journey through Tennessee. From where did this thing come? Why was it there?
First, I want to take a moment to mention the origin of these statues. Putting together pieces, it would seem that the first pink elephant was built by a man named Bob Reis of Sculptured Advertising in Sparta, Wisconsin. She was named Pinky and took her place to stand outside of the Pink Elephant Supper Club in Marquette, Iowa, in 1963.
According to Roadside America, “Pinky’s moment of great glory came in August 1978, when Reis somehow made her water-ski on the Mississippi River to honor a visiting President Carter.” If you want to visit Pinky, she is now owned by the city and stands outside of Lady Luck Casino, formerly Isle of Capri Casino. My family has not visited Pinky as of yet. However, let us get back to our pink elephant adventures!
On a journey across Interstate 40, we met Ellie. Ellie stands on the side of the road about a mile north of I-40. She is in front of a hair salon, so I went inside to enquire about her. The gals in the salon seemed to think that there was a children’s toy or clothing store at that location at one time and that the owner had gotten the elephant to display there.
I did not find anything about the children’s store online, yet I did find that there used to be a sporting goods store called H2O Zone at this location. At that time, Ellie wore a bikini and rode water skis. When we visited Ellie, she had been painted pink but still had her sunglasses. That was considerate since she spends a lot of her time out there in the sun!
As it turned out, literally days before we met Ellie, someone had fashioned a pile of poop from various sports balls. According to one person, Ellie has been standing in Cookeville, Tennessee since 1986, so I suppose that it was about time someone let her go potty.
Our next pink elephant adventure was in Nashville, Tennessee. I cannot find a name or an origin for this elephant. He stands on a trailer in front of University Motors. I read on Roadside America that he recently got repainted and lost his sunglasses, which is a bummer because he had a really neat paint job. Ah, but maybe he has something better in store for him. Hopefully they will give him back his sunglasses!
On a journey down Interstate 95 this year, we have the opportunity to spend some time with Big Al and Lizzie. These two keep each other company off of exit 5 in Hardeeville, South Carolina, in front of Papa Joe’s Fireworks.
While we were there, another car pulled into the parking lot and unloaded some folks who had come to visit Big Al and Lizzie, too. These folks were actually traveling around specifically to see roadside attractions. They had an animatronic cat and made videos. I forgot the cat’s name. It was Mr. something. I looked for the cat on YouTube but did not find him. Anyway, it was fun to meet strangers and share some fun for a few minutes before we bid everyone farewell and got back on the road.
The parking area where Big Al and Lizzie reside is large enough to park and have a good place to stretch your legs and take some pictures. We even stopped back there swhen we were going the other direction on I-95 and got to see a dear friend who lives in that area.
If you find yourself on the road and want to see an elephant simply for the novelty of it, do a search online for pink elephants. There are other colors, too, yet pink seems to be the most common color of these creatures. Roadside Architecture has a good, quick list. What is the point? Well, life is what you make it, and we make visiting unique and interesting things fun while we continue enjoying the days!
By the way, Ellie is now our buddy, and we visit her from time to time. Do you live near her or any other elephants?