Un­be­liev­able ele­phant tale

Statue hon­ors ‘stam­pede’

New York Post - - NEWS - By MARY KAY LINGE

Oct. 29 will mark the 88th an­niver­sary of the big­gest catas­tro­phe to ever un­fold in the Big Ap­ple — that no one’s ever heard of.

Most re­mem­ber that aw­ful day in 1929 as Black Tues­day, the great stock-mar­ket crash.

Ab­sent from most his­tory books is a hard-to-be­lieve hu­man-pachy­derm tragedy: the Brook­lyn Bridge Ele­phant Stam­pede — whose vic­tims fi­nally got their due last week when a statue was in­stalled in their honor in Brook­lyn Bridge Park.

Any­where from 10 to 64 peo­ple were crushed by a trio of rag­ing ele­phants that hor­ri­ble day, all flat­tened by the mas­sive beasts — led by the big­gest of them all, a 13-foot-tall be­he­moth named Jumbo.

A news­pa­per ac­count of the may­hem on the statue’s Web site says, “A slow and de­lib­er­ate cross sud­denly be­came a deadly stam­pede to free­dom for Jumbo and a pair of ele­phant cru­saders. The ele­phants bull­dozed any­thing and ev­ery­one in their path. Bones were crushed. Bod­ies im­paled upon tusks. Help­less cit­i­zens dragged through the streets like rag dolls.”

Yet no one would have pre­dicted the blood­bath. Af­ter all, ele­phants had marched over the bridge ever since the great span was com­pleted in 1883.

What made these ele­phants killers? Some said a rogue, ra­bid mouse spooked the lum­ber­ing gi­ants. Oth­ers said Jumbo was to blame — spoiled peanuts may have made him par­tic­u­larly dys­pep­tic that day.

Two ele­phants died in the stam­pede. Jumbo was last seen charg­ing to free­dom through the Hol­land Tun­nel.

It’s said Jumbo’s ghost still ties up traf­fic in the tube to this day.

Tourists mar­veled at the pow- er­ful work of art.

“It’s worth com­mem­o­rat­ing, even though it’s a lit­tle gory,” said James Dob­bie of Al­berta, Canada. “But my first thought was, the poor ele­phants,” said his wife, Deb­o­rah.

The one thing miss­ing from the mon­u­ment is a dis­claimer: The statue, which can move from one place to an­other on wheels, is real. But the event never hap­pened.

It’s the brain­child of artis­tist-prankster Joe Reginella, whowho said, “Even if you know it’s fake, it’s fun.”

Last year, he dis­trib­uted bro-brochures send­ing dozens of tourists to a nonex­is­tent mu-mu­seum on Staten Island dedied­i­cated to a gi­ant-oc­to­pus s at­tack in New York Har­bor that also never was.

“Don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thingng you read. Or what­ever’ss on the In­ter­net,’’ Reginella said.

PACHY­DERM PANIC: A tourists ad­mires the new sculp­ture com­mem­o­rat­ing the 1929 Brook­lyn Bridge Ele­phant Stam­pede, by artist Joe Reginella (inset). Few New York­ers know the fullu story — and that’s for a very good rea­son.

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