Located on the banks of the upper Mississippi River, the Pink Elephant welcomes everyone to the Marquette/McGregor area. Thousands of people have had their picture taken with Pinky, but few know the story behind this landmark.
Its beginnings go back to the Republican Convention in Sparta, Wisconsin. At that time the fiberglass elephant was gray. As the convention left town, the pachyderm was homeless. In 1964 Iowa passed the “liquor by the drink” law. A group of entrepreneurs were about the open the Pink Elephant Supper Club. They purchased the elephant and after a coat of pink paint, a Northeastern Iowa landmark was born.
Residing by the great waters has its perils. Several floods have threatened the Pink Elephant. In fact, in the spring of 1965, the waters rose to Pinky’s feet. Of course, the Mississippi can also provide lots of fun. In 1976, fun-loving Democrats loaded the elephant onto a pontoon boat and Pinky “water-skied” down the river to visit future President Jimmy Carter.
Throughout 1994, the Pink elephant was moved for safekeeping as the City of Marquette worked on the Port of Marquette development project. By year’s end, Pinky was back overlooking the mighty Mississippi.
So, now you know that the Pink Elephant is not just a symbol of fun, food, and good times. But a historic presence that shares its history with the people of the Upper Mississippi.
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