Unbelievable elephant tale
Statue honors ‘stampede’
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.