Lucy the Elephant.
So many people know her and yet so many people have no clue.
As someone who give tours of Lucy, I know this firsthand, because I hear it from the tourists who come visit her. Many of them bring their grandchildren and tell me stories of their first visit 30, 40, 50 years ago, and then I get those who stumbled upon her, either through a Google search or simply driving by and seeing a big elephant butt standing along the roadside.
I grew up on the island, in Atlantic City, so Lucy has been a part of my life long before I worked for her. Truth be told, although I used to party in the neighborhood around Lucy, home to such iconic bars as Maloney's and Reds, and would wave hello to her whenever I was there, I hadn't ever gone inside her until a few years ago.
Now that I'm a tour guide, I hear all the stories: people who knew the Gertzen family, who owned Lucy until the 1960s; those who helped raise money to move and restore the big elephant in the 1970s. I even get to hear the whispered stories of those who broke into her when she was shut down, slightly embarrassed about their naughty past. Everyone who knows of Lucy really loves her. She's iconic, obviously, as any six-story elephant would be. Margate wouldn't be Margate without her.
In recent weeks, rumors have swirled that Lucy could be moved to Atlantic City to make room for a boutique hotel. The speculation was further fueled because the city and the Save Lucy Committee, which runs the site, have yet to agree on an extension of the 50-year, $1-a-year lease that expires in December 2019.
Despite assurances from Margate Mayor Mike Becker that moving Lucy is not on the table, the idea of ever losing our town icon has caused quite the firestorm.
>> READ MORE: Margate: We're not trying to evict Lucy the Elephant
Lucy is to Margate what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and the Statue of Liberty is to New York. She's the oldest roadside attraction in the United States.
Moving Lucy would be a mistake, for both Margate and Atlantic City. It would make for a strange fit for a zoomorphic building from the Victorian age to stand in the midst of the glitzy lights of the casinos and Boardwalk shops. It would be both out of place and out of time, since Atlantic City has a penchant for tearing down its past to find its future.
Lucy is more than just a building to those of us who know her. She's our mascot, our touchstone, our love. We all have Lucy stories to tell, and that says a lot for an elephant that never says a word. As a matter of fact, when we go to open Lucy for the day, we always say, "I'm going to wake Lucy up." To those of us who work there, she's more than a job. And to those who love Lucy, she's more than a plot of land to build another block of condos.
Margate is where Lucy belongs.