Why a Birmingham man wants to be called ‘Elephant Man’

An elephant hello: ears back and trunk up. Photo by Kelsey Freeman.
Bryan Council (c/o David Sher)

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections and past Chairman of Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, ONB, and CAP.

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Today’s guest blogger is Bryan Council. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

There’s never been a neighborhood in Birmingham that’s gone through a more drastic transformation than Avondale.

A few years ago some people outside the community would have been afraid to get out of their cars.

Now there are individuals and families from Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and all the over the mountain suburbs walking the streets of Avondale days, nights, and weekends.

But the best is yet to come and we have an idea on how to accelerate that momentum.

I’ve never been more proud to live in Birmingham, Alabama. As a lifelong resident of the city, it is exciting to see all the significant investments in our neighborhoods and the many great projects still in development that will add to the positive momentum. Almost every week, there is news of a new restaurant, real estate development, or business enterprise that is taking place in the city center.

I have lived in the Forest Park / South Avondale community my entire life and am proud to see the good things that are happening in the neighborhood. I frequently enjoy the new dining and entertainment options that local entrepreneurs have built in Avondale.

What many visitors to the area may not know is Avondale is full of history.

For example, most people do not know that Avondale Park was the original site of the Birmingham Zoo. The zoo’s star attraction was a gentle Indian elephant named Miss Fancy.

Miss Fancy patiently entertained thousands of children during the two decades she spent at the zoo. She often let children ride on her back. Miss Fancy would occasionally break free and roam the neighborhoods of Avondale, Woodlawn, and Forest Park. Each time she escaped, she was easily attracted back to the park with the lure of food.

Food is again the lure of many residents and visitors to Avondale and there are references to Miss Fancy throughout the area. The restaurant, "Fancy’s on Fifth", is named after Miss Fancy as is the Miss Fancy’s Triple at Avondale Brewery.

Birmingham has several iconic places that pay tribute to the city’s past while at the same time offering expressions of optimism for the future. Places like, the Civil Rights Museum, Vulcan Park, Railroad Park, and the Rotary Trail all fit this description.

There is now an effort underway to bring a new icon to the Birmingham landscape in the form of a life-size statue of Miss Fancy – an elephant to be located at the entrance to Avondale Park. The statue will pay tribute to Miss Fancy and Avondale’s history, a community where people have always come together for fellowship and fun. The plans for the new statue include a water feature, which will serve as a place for children to play on hot summer days.

The goals of the project are to drive economic development by making Avondale a must-visit destination, encourage community gathering for families, and create an anchor point for the community the way Railroad Park has done for downtown Birmingham.

I encourage individuals, companies, and community leaders to get involved to make this project a reality by visiting the website to learn more. This is just one more example of a community project that will add to the tapestry of great things happening in Birmingham.

It will create a new icon that connects our city’s history with our future.

Bryan Council is President of Metro Monitor, a Birmingham based media monitoring firm that serves clients throughout the United States. Bryan is a native of Birmingham and an enthusiastic supporter of all things Birmingham.

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