Elephant Statues Debuted during Erwin’s 2nd Annual Outdoor Festival
R.I.S.E. Erwin members spent a day volunteering at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee ahead of elephant statue debut at Erwin’s Outdoor Festival, May 6, 2017. Plans for Erwin’s 2nd Annual Erwin Elephant Revival are underway.
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May 2, 2017
By Mary Kate Williams
Erwin, Tennessee is a small town nestled in the mountains of northeast Tennessee with beautiful views and a heart for helping others. However, it has a 100-year-old, sad and sorted history with a circus elephant named Mary. It is in honor of her memory and in restitution for her cruel death after killing her trainer that a group of young professionals, known as R.I.S.E. Erwin, has taken up Mary’s banner and the advocacy of elephants.
Last August, the 100th anniversary of Mary’s death was recognized in a ten-day community festival and fundraising event hosted by the R.I.S.E. organization to benefit The Elephant Sanctuary. Activities included a #SEEKMARY scavenger hunt, “TRUNK (antique car) Show,” charity dinner, Glow Parade, and production by the Unicoi County High School Drama Department, who wrote and performed “Mary’s Story, 100 Years Later.”
In addition, eight baby elephant statues were on display throughout the festival and later painted by a local artist and debuted during Erwin’s 2nd Annual Outdoor Festival, held May 6, 2017. The statues are set to be displayed in downtown Erwin throughout the summer and fall, and auctioned October 21, with all proceeds going to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
“The Elephant Sanctuary is grateful to the community of Erwin for their incredible support,” said Todd Montgomery, The Elephant Sanctuary’s Manager of Volunteerism and Outreach. “The Sanctuary receives regular support from individual supporters, schools, businesses, civic clubs, faith-based groups, but to our knowledge, Erwin is the only community that so fully supports The Sanctuary’s work to care for retired elephants and educate the public about their needs and crisis facing elephants in the wild.”
The statue auction will take place October 21, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. For information regarding location of the auction, interested parties may call Erwin Town Hall at 423-743-6231. Attendance is not necessary to place a bid on an elephant. Simply choose the desired elephant statue, call in your maximum bid, and a live onsite bidder will be assigned. A bid form will also be available as the auction approaches.
This past month, several members of the R.I.S.E. organization traveled to Hohenwald to spend a day in service to The Sanctuary and to the elephants that find rest, refuge, herd, and home there. Despite wet weather, R.I.S.E members had the opportunity to contribute indoors by painting sections of the interior of one of the elephant barns. R.I.S.E members said to see the good work being done and the knowledge and care the employees of The Sanctuary devote to the elephants was awe inspiring.
“It was a powerful experience being hands on with the facilities and seeing all that goes into caring for the elephants: man hours, flexibility, supplies, precautions, expertise, skill. You could tell every employee we met has a passion for this work and believe in and love what they do,” said Mary Kate Williams, one of the members of the R.I.S.E. volunteer team.
After staring into the eyes of these magnificent creatures, these R.I.S.E members felt even more passion and urgency to spread the awareness of this peaceful haven. The R.I.S.E. organization plans to make the Erwin Elephant Revival an annual event with varying activities each year. The goal of the Erwin Elephant Revival this year will be to continue spreading the word about elephants in captivity and raise proceeds in support of The Elephant Sanctuary. The second annual Erwin Elephant Revival is planned for the weekend of September 23, 2017.