MARGATE – After 15 months of tedious work plagued by supply chain issues, funding shortages and a harsh winter, Lucy the Elephant is ready to accept visitors for the next 50 years or more.

Hundreds of members of Lucy’s fan club flocked to Josephine Harron Park Wednesday evening to see the four story iconic structure rededicated. Present were the Save Lucy Committee board members, local, county and state dignitaries and state representatives who ensure New Jersey’s historic landmarks are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Lucy Executive Director Richard Helfant, who has devoted most of his adult life to preserving the National Historic Landmark, introduced those who had a hand in preserving the aging elephant. Lucy will be 142 years old this July.

Her age was showing, so Helfant applied for funding to re-sheathe the roadside attraction with a new metal exterior that is “guaranteed” not to rust. The project to restore her was slated to take eight months at a cost of $1.4 million but due to supply chain issues, finding more damage than expected and cost overruns, the project came in at $2.4 million.

“She’s 100% new and she never looked better,” Helfant said, announcing that more work would be coming starting September 2023, when the entire interior of the elephant will be refurbished, new HVAC will be installed, and the aging gift shop will be rebuilt.

That project includes adding restrooms so school children can visit on field trips and learn about how an elephant came to live at Margate’s beach.

“Whether you’re a shoobie or a clam digger, it’s great to see everyone here,” NJ Assemblyman and former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said. “It’s good to know Lucy will be around for our children and grandchildren to know and love.”

According to Larry Sieg, president and CEO of Meet AC, Atlantic City’s tourism and marketing organization, Lucy the Elephant is the number one non-gaming attraction on Absecon Island.

Jeff Vassar, director of NJ Division of Travel and Tourism, said of the 160 million visitors who come to New Jersey each year, half of them go to the Jersey Shore.

“I’m sick of people asking me when Lucy will be open again,” he said pointing to Margate’s favorite pachyderm.

Commissioner Ernest Coursey of Atlantic City, who was recently re-elected to the Atlantic County Board of Commisioners and now serving the Downbeach area after redistricting, said he was celebrating the end of 2022 knowing Lucy the Elephant will always be on the map.

“What a great way to be introduced to your new constituency,” Coursey said. “Like Atlantic City, Lucy will always be on the map.”

Commissioner John Amodeo said that over the last five years since the city approved a new longterm lease with the Save Lucy Committee, “we forged a new partnership to keep Lucy alive.”

He called raising the funds to restore the elephant “a Herculean task,” crediting Helfant for his never-ending commitment, and the architect and contractors who “brought her back to her natural beauty.”

Lucy’s big makeover was funded with grants from the NJ Historic Trust and the Save America’s Treasures grant programs totaling $1.2 million. To cover the shortfall the committee embarked on a fundraising program called, Lucy’s Life Preservers. Many of those who contributed $1,000 or more toward the exterior restoration project were in attendance at the celebration, and the fundraising continues.

A special added treat for spectators was Margate’s own Dan Walsh singing the song he wrote to honor Lucy the Elephant.

There to support Lucy and Walsh was Janet McCarron, director of Playgroups Plus preschool in Margate, wearing her elephant costume, which she purchased on Amazon for the preschool’s annual graduation ceremony, which every year includes singing Walsh’s popular song honoring the historic structure that Margate children know and love.

For information about Lucy the Elephant or becoming a Lucy Life Preserver, email, or call 609-823-6473, ext. 5.


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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.