Special to the Tribune
Six decades ago, a Niagara Falls icon was born.
And in honor of National Elephant Appreciation on Sept. 22, Jennifer Cooper, the third generation owner and president of the family business, Cooper Sign Company Inc. in Niagara Falls, noted that the pink elephant sign on the Falls' Pine Avenue was installed 60 years ago.
In 1955, Wayne Cooper, owner of the company, was asked by the owner of Jack's Used Cars to come up with something unusual that would attract attention from potential customers passing his business. Cooper, then a resident of the Town of Niagara and now 90 years old, 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 in our shop on Military Road," Cooper said. "My customer wanted something out of the ordinary 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 hole in it and stuck it on top."
Jennifer Cooper noted the attention the unusual sign has attracted over the years. It's featured on the website www.RoadsideArchitecture.com, which highlights vintage signs across the United States.
"Signs can make or break a business and having something that attracts attention is important," she said.
A variety of businesses have been located at 2626 Pine Ave., but the one most associated with the sign is Honey's Pizza, which has since moved to Niagara Falls Boulevard.