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Who Will Buy Brandon's Iconic Pink Elephant, Washington on a Camel?

Is there a buyer willing to preserve as pieces of town history the Brandon Boulevard pink elephant and camel sporting George Washington?

Paula Yambor said "it's time" to sell her two statues — the iconic pink elephant and the yellow-suited George Washington astride a camel — that for decades have stood their ground in the front corners of the old Shelton's nursery, separated by a fence from the rush of Brandon Boulevard traffic.

In a telephone interview June 18, Paula Yambor, the owner, said she recently gave the concrete statues with hollow inner bellies a paint job because she is accepting bids for their sale — starting at $1,100 for the elephant and $500 for the camel and George Washington.

She said she aims eventually to sell the property on which the statues sit, and should that owner destroy the statues, "that would be a gross miscarriage of justice." The lot now is vacant, save for an old, small building that once housed Andrew Shelton's nursery, for which her husband, Arthur Yambor, had been the long-time manager and then the eventual owner, after Shelton's death.

It was Arthur Yambor who brought the statues to Shelton and the nursery, after agreeing to help move a giraffe — one of 15 to 20 such pieces off the property of a bar on U.S. Highway 301 — to a new location, Paula Yambor said.

"He asked me if I wanted to bring [the elephant and camel] out to the house for the kids to play with, but he got them to the nursery and everybody was having such fun with them he decided to leave them there," Paula Yambor said. "The people who would come in there, he would just make it fun. He made a lot of things fun."

Yambor has in her collection of memorabilia many news reports about the statues, one of which she read from, claiming the statues were part of "moonshine menagerie," in which the bellies were hollowed out so that they could store liquor.

Arthur Yambor died in 2004, after being diagnosed with leukemia and succumbing to the disease six days later. In the nine years since his death, the statues have remained, "like a living memorial to him," Paula Yambor said. "He was a kid at heart and he had fun and I'm glad everything he ever wanted to do he did."

After her husband died, Yambor said she had calls from interested buyers, half of which were for the elephant, but "at that time I just wasn't ready to let them go."

Now, it is time.

"I'm taking phone bids on both the statues," she said. "Whatever bid comes in the highest, that's who will get to take them to new homes. It's time to say, 'Adieu.'  I dressed them up in some new outfits and now they're ready to go."

It's not the first time the statues have been painted. In fact, according to Yambor, when Shelton's Nursery was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, in 1997, the elephant was painted silver to mark the occasion.

That didn't last long.

"We had so many complaints, calls coming into the nursery, people saying, 'Please paint it back to pink,' because people were using the pink elephant as a landmark when they gave directions to their homes," Yambor said. "Arthur went out there and repainted it pink and it's been pink ever since."

Yambor has high hopes for the buyer.

"I prefer somebody who lives in Brandon and who would at least have had some kind of contact with or knowledge of the statues as Brandon icons," she said. "I can't guarantee that. I wish I could, but I can't."

She said the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce had expressed an interest in the statues "years ago, but they're not interested in that now."

"I'd like for them to stay in Brandon because they have been such an iconic collection, and identity for the town," Yambor said. "When my daughter, Marjorie, a 1988 graduate of Brandon High, was in high school, for their senior pictures kids would want to come out and have their pictures taken with the elephant."

Her son, Arthur Andrew, is named for both is father and Mr. Shelton. Yambor said she and her husband met Andrew Shelton when the Yambors were working at Hilltop Motel Apartments in Brandon. Her husband went on to become a teacher at what is now Wilson Middle School and she stayed at the apartments, to clean them.

"We met Mr. Shelton because he stayed at the apartments," Yambor said. "He liked the way Arthur took care of the apartments and offered him a full-time managerial position at the nursery."

"Mr. Shelton was a classy gentleman," she said. "He had a total of five Shelton nurseries and the Brandon Shelton's was the last to open. All of them closed except for Brandon, and it only closed because of Arthur's passing."

As for the fate of the statues, that remains in the hands of the highest bidder. Phone bids are being accepted at 813-689-6124.
Bobbi June 19, 2013 at 10:14 AM
We really hate to see them go. Pinkie has guided us home for 18 years now.....Wish they could remain on that lot <3. There should be a going away party and photos with pinkie. Then donating the money to a local charity. PINKIE DON"T GO.
Sandi Cassel June 19, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I can't imagine the pink elephant not being there. When I travel Brandon Blvd., I always look over to see the pink elephant. It brings a smile to my face.
Scott King June 19, 2013 at 04:01 PM
i too, would like to see them stay!
Frank June 23, 2013 at 08:07 AM
These would fit in nicely with the eclectic art collection at Winthrop Town Center!
carmen Ciesla June 26, 2013 at 08:58 AM
The elephant, george, and other figures were made and originally owned by my husband's Uncle John who lived on that 301 property. He used them to store large tools like rakes and shovels. We have old black and white pictures of his home with various unique items.
Tim Mandese July 09, 2013 at 09:27 AM
The story has it all wrong! These were not built for bootleggers! They were part of the decor at a bar called Ft Apex. The bar was at the corner of Hwy301 and Tampa E Blvd! The building itself was made of concrete and bottles set into the walls like stained glass. By the late 1960s, it was abandoned and I used to play in the building and on the statues.

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