National Elephant Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on September 22. One would think it to be unusual to celebrate National Elephant Appreciation Day in a place like Western New York with the exception that Pine Avenue is home to an iconic pink elephant sign installed 60 years ago.
The year was 1955 and Wayne Cooper, owner of Cooper Sign Company in Niagara Falls was asked by the owner of Jack’s Used Cars to come up with something unusual that would attract attention to potential customers passing his business in Niagara Falls. Mr. Cooper, now 90 years old, and at the time living in the Town of Niagara went home and found his daughter, Barbara, coloring an elephant pink in her coloring book. The idea stuck in his mind of a pink elephant balancing a carousel on its head. “It took a month to weld the elephant sign in our shop on Military Road”, said Cooper. Why an elephant? “It was mainly to attract attention to his business.” I was looking for a round object for the top and all I could come up with was an old bowling ball so I drilled a whole in it and stuck it on top”, Cooper said.
Jennifer Cooper, the third generation owner and president of the family business, Cooper Sign Company Inc. said, “Signs can make or break a business and having something that attracts attention is important”. The business most known for that location over the years at 2626 Pine Avenue was Honey’s Pizza, which is no longer there. Sixty years later, the elephant sign with the carousel on its head and an old bowling ball on the top still stands and is featured on the website RoadsideArchitecture.com highlighting vintage signs across the United States.
Check out the gallery below to see some images from the iconic sign’s history!