Pedestal Ready! Miss Fancy Returns to Avondale Park in June

Miss Fancy Pedestal
Miss Fancy’s pedestal is ready in Avondale Park. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Birmingham’s beloved elephant Miss Fancy is getting closer to returning as the signature statue in Avondale Park. The concrete pedestal for her future home was poured this Tuesday just off 40th Street. Local community members have worked tirelessly to find and repair Miss Fancy. Let’s talk about the history and future of Birmingham’s favorite elephant.

The Rich History of Miss Fancy

Old photo of Miss Fancy giving a children a ride on her back
Children loved feeding Miss Fancy and Miss Fancy loved being fed. Photo via Bham Wiki

Miss Fancy’s story begins with a real-life elephant at the Birmingham Zoo. Miss Fancy was an Indian elephant housed at the zoo when it was still in Avondale Park from 1913-1934. She delighted children and adults.

Leslie Smukler, a Forest Park resident who led efforts to find Ms. Fancy’s statue, described the original Ms. Fancy’s role in Avondale’s history. 

 

“Her trainer would walk her through the neighborhood at night. You’d be in the bathroom brushing your teeth and look up and an elephant would be looking through your window,” said Smukler.

Finding Miss Fancy

Miss Fancy in the bed of a truck
She’s ready to get back to Avondale Park. Photo via Leslie Smukler

 The story of Miss Fancy is shrouded in mystery, but Leslie Smukler provided us with her account of the Miss Fancy statue’s birth, disappearance and eventual discovery. 

When Avondale Park was remodeled 8 years ago, the remodeling company donated a statue of Ms. Fancy. It became an instant hit. 

“They put it at the entrance of the park. It was delightful. It really added a lot of fun and gaiety to the park,” said Smukler.

Group photo restore Miss Fancy
The A Team stands around Miss Fancy. Photo via Leslie Smukler

Sadly, a drunk driver ran into Miss Fancy 6 months after her installation. The damaged statue disappeared for years. 

“For the last several years, I always wondered where she was,” added Smukler.

Luckily, a friend of Smukler gave her the scoop. Miss Fancy was hidden away in the basement of Legions Field. 

After a few months of investigation, Smukler got approval from Birmingham Parks and Recreation to try and bring the injured Miss Fancy statue back to life. Smukler took her pickup truck to Legions Field and four men lifted the Birmingham icon into her truck bed. As the statue rode through town, Birmingham neared Miss Fancy’s return. 

Miss Fancy Update

Miss Fancy
The tusk on the Miss Fancy statue has been repaired. Photo via Leslie Smukler

Miss Fancy is getting closer and closer to her return. Today, Miss Fancy is in the repair process. 

“Her tusk has been put back on. Many of the cracks are being repaired. Then she will be getting all cleaned and fixed up to be put back.”

On Monday, May 17th, the concrete foundation for Miss Fancy’s statue was finally poured in Avondale Park.

Avondale Park
Miss Fancy’s pedestal is ready in Avondale Park. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

“All we have is a piece of concrete, but everybody’s walking by and getting excited,” said Smukler. 

Miss Fancy is set to be installed at Avondale Park in June. It will be the first time she’s stood at Avondale Park in 8 years.

An added bonus, in the future, there’s also a second Miss Fancy statue in the works at the park. The second statue will honor Avondale community member Ron Council who passed away in 2014.

Mini-Celebration Set For June 19th

Mark your calendars, to commemorate the installation, which will be in early June, Smukler and her team are hosting a mini-celebration on June 19th. There will be some fun Miss Fancy trivia at the party–look out for t-shirt and book giveaways!

Written by breaking news intern Libby Foster

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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