Lucy the Elephant after she was refurbished.

By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY

MARGATE – Everyone knows that Lucy the Elephant is tops in Margate’s book, but this week, she got some major recognition in a nationwide poll conducted by a leading national news organization.

In a story posted on USA Today May 15, Lucy not only placed in the Top 10 of the newspaper’s 2024 Best Roadside Attractions list, but she was also voted the No. 1 attraction people traveling across the U.S. should not miss.

“USA Today told the entire nation what we already know,” Save Lucy Committee Executive Director Richard Helfant said, “Lucy is No. 1.”

According to the news article, travelers can see “countless cultural and quirky landmarks” in locations across the USA that are more than just “stops along the way; they’re destinations in their own right, each with a story to tell.”

Nominees were selected by a panel of “experts,” before editors narrowed the list and asked readers to cast their ballots once a day during the voting period. It is not surprising that several Facebook posts showed Lucy was in the lead throughout the voting period.

Among the Top 10, are a drugstore in South Dakota that offers free water ice, an 18-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan and his pet Blue Ox in Minnesota, a pencil sharpener museum in Ohio, a giant fire hydrant in Texas, and one we agree is a stiff competitor – the largest ball of twine in Kansas.

But the finest of all is Margate, New Jersey’s own National Historic Landmark, Lucy the Elephant, who keeps a watchful eye on the Atlantic Ocean.

Helfant said USA Today notified the organization that it was one of 18 landmarks in contention, and staffers at the Save Lucy Committee conducted an aggressive campaign on social media and through their email list to get people to vote daily for Lucy.

“We have tremendous supporters,” Helfant said, crediting Director of Education Jeremy Bingaman and Social Media Coordinator Ari Solomon for their “amazing and astonishing” promotion.

Rendering of Interpretive Center to be built next to Lucy the Elephant.

Helfant said bringing national recognition to Lucy, who also boasts being the nation’s oldest roadside attraction, will help the organization continue to raise funds for her upkeep and to fund a multi-million-dollar Interpretive Center being built next to the elephant.

“This is phenomenally good for Lucy, the City of Margate, and the State of New Jersey,” Helfant said.

What makes Lucy so special is her historical significance to the development of the city now known as Margate by the Sea.

She was originally built to attract investors to purchase real estate in what was then known as South Atlantic City. Over the years, the six-story tall structure served as a home for a wealthy family and a hotel. After falling on hard times, she was saved from the wrecking ball in the early 1970s and moved two blocks away to her current home at Josepine Harron Park on Decatur Avenue and the beach.

The 142-year-old structure recently underwent refurbishment to replace her skin with a more-resilient metal that will withstand the harshest weather the Atlantic Ocean can muster.

Plans are underway to upgrade her interior to make her just perfect for visitors who climb the stairs in her leg to tour her innards. They can then climb a staircase to Lucy’s howdah, where they can look out into the ocean and across Absecon Island for miles.

Lucy the Elephant is open for tours year-round where she is a delight for children and families seeking wholesome family fun while they vacation at the Jersey shore.

For more information about Lucy, see www.LucyTheElephant.org.

Communication students from Atlantic Cape Community College recently held their 2024 graduation ceremony at Lucy the Elephant in Margate.

Copyright Access Global Media & Technology, LLC 2024

Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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