Media: Fianna Dickson, 625.6297. Parks & Recreation: 311
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 3:34 p.m.
SPOKANE – One of the iconic figures from The White Elephant stores will soon have a new home in Riverfront Park at the Looff Carrousel building.
The white elephant, affectionately named Isidore, spent time at historic Natatorium Park before making a more permanent home at long-running The White Elephant stores. With the store closures, the family of owners were looking to place one of the elephants in a location the public could enjoy.
They chose Riverfront Park’s Looff Carrousel building because of the Nat Park connection – the Looff Carrousel was also part of the attractions at the well-known amusement park.
The family wrote:
“In 1946, our founder and patriarch, John R. Conley Sr. simply wanted to earn an honest living and raise a family. Over the years, we witnessed the impact the business had in the lives of extended family, friends, employees, and in the hearts of customers. Upon announcing our closure, reading and hearing the stories, the memories, and the expressions of support and heartfelt emotion has been inspiring and humbling.
It is fitting that our elephant is reunited with the animals of Natatorium Park. It is also a whimsical nod to our legacy that the carrousel is housed on the grounds of Expo ’74. But it is most significant that our elephant reside in a venue where it will be cared for, protected, and readily available for the enjoyment of future generations. We offer our elephant to Riverfront Park to honor our past, seek hope in our future, and express our profound gratitude for the years of patronage, service, and friendship that afforded us a blessed life in this beautiful community. God love ya Spokane.”
The elephant will remain 10 cents to ride in perpetuity, as part of the gift agreement. It is on wheels, so can be indoors near the carrousel or placed just outside the building for visitors to enjoy in warmer weather.
“I recall riding one of the white elephants as a child. It’s meaningful for our community to learn more about the elephant’s connection to the carrousel, and for this ride to be accessible to future generations. These are icons of our city and its history” said Gerry Sperling, Park Board member. Sperling is also the stepdaughter of former Nat Park owner Lloyd Vogel.
The Division St. location of The White Elephant will close at 4 P.M. on Sunday, July 26. In the weeks to come, the elephant will be safely transported to Riverfront. Parks & Recreation hopes to have Isidore available for rides outdoors, amidst phase 2 protocols.
An announcement will be shared when the elephant is in its new home and open to the public.
About The White Elephant stores
The White Elephant is a local, family owned sporting goods and toy retailer that has become a Spokane landmark. In 1946, after returning from his service in WWII, John R. Conley founded The White Elephant selling war surplus. John began to build the store’s inventory based on his passions of fishing, outdoor recreation and finding the best deal. After John’s marriage to Mary E. Condon in 1949 and the birth of the first of their eleven children in 1950, The White Elephant began selling toys. With their children, grandchildren, extended family, and dear friends closely involved in the business, many opportunities for expansion presented themselves. But John always settled on keeping the business a small, local operation. John Conley passed away in 2017 and the business is currently owned by sons Richard Conley and Patrick Conley, and wife Mary Conley Sr. The White Elephant was born out of troubled times; prospered with the support of faith, family, friends and patrons; and will be remembered for its unique brand and enduring connection to the Spokane community. There is now a sign upon the closed doors and they have gone fishin’!
About City of Spokane Parks and Recreation
City of Spokane Parks and Recreation stewards nearly 120 properties across 4,000 acres of park land, including manicured parks, conservation lands, aquatic centers, golf course, sports complexes, and an arboretum. We also offer hundreds of recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities to improve the health and quality of life for our community. Enjoy all your city has to offer by visiting spokaneparks.org. Follow us @SpokaneParks on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.