- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) - There will be a permanent guest at the City Park Stadium: A 5-ton marble elephant.

The marble elephant will be planted at the stadium - the home of Gainesville Red Elephants’ football, soccer and lacrosse teams, the Times of Gainesville (https://bit.ly/2kNRPG5) reported. The statue will be located at the home team entrance where players make their traditional “elephant walk.”

The elephant weighs 9,986 pounds and stands about 7-feet tall. It’s a gift from Jack Frost, a connoisseur of the arts and owner of Memorial Park Funeral Home.

Frost traveled across the globe twice to the marble statue, finding it on display in Vietnam. After seeing it, he couldn’t resist buying the elephant.

When Frost returned to Gainesville, he described the marble elephant to his operations manager at the time - the late James “Bimbo” Brewer - and asked him whether it would be something Gainesville High School would like to have as a gift.

Brewer reached out through his daughter, Erin Still, to Gainesville High Principal Tom Smith, who said he’d welcome the gift. Still is co-chairman of the committee working on the school’s 125th anniversary to be commemorated Feb. 26.

“They sent us a picture of (the elephant),” Smith said. “The biggest thing was trying to find a place that it could be displayed. We felt that on campus we already had elephant representation. … We felt that the elephant walk out there at City Park was an appropriate place to put it to where it represents what a great gift it was. … It’ll be a great view from Green Street for everybody that passes by to see the grand elephant.”

The elephant’s trip to the United States turned into an odyssey when the ship carrying the statue had to find safe port after it came across a super typhoon roaring through the South China Sea around Christmas, said Scott Wiley, vice president of operations at the funeral home.

“It had to port for a while,” Wiley said of the ship carrying the elephant. “It finally arrived at the Port of Savannah in mid-January.”

A crew hauled the crated statue to Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park on Thursday with the aid of a crane, lift the 5-ton monument to a sturdy cement base at the home team entrance.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.gainesvilletimes.com


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