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Red Elephant takes shape at Gainesville High School
It was a gift from J. Rhodes Haverty and his wife
A 3-ton steel sculptured red elephant has been donated to Gainesville High School by J. Rhodes Haverty of Atlanta and his wife. - photo by Tom Reed

The home of the Red Elephants is now home to a 3-ton red elephant sculpture.

Gainesville High School Athletic Director Wayne Vickery said he is glad the school was chosen for the gift, which shows off its school spirit.

“There can’t be another one around here like that,” he said, laughing.

J. Rhodes Haverty of Rhodes-Haverty Furniture Stores and his wife were preparing to move from their Atlanta home and started seeking a place for the elephant that adorned their front yard. Zoo Atlanta and the University of Alabama were on the list of possible recipients, according to a news release.

Haverty was introduced to Blake Fulenwider, health policy adviser to Gov. Nathan Deal and Gainesville High School graduate. Fulenwider knew exactly where the elephant should go, according to the release.

“Gainesville is probably the only high school with a red elephant. It’s kind of unique,” Vickery said.

The hefty sculpture was moved from the Havertys’ home using a crane. It arrived at the school three weeks ago in two pieces as it was designed.

School officials had the sculpture sandblasted and painted Gainesville red. After waiting weeks for it to dry, the elephant was assembled on campus Monday.

“There is a lot of great tradition and heritage behind Gainesville High School Red Elephants,” Vickery said.

The Red Elephant mascot came from a football game many years ago. Vickery said a reporter came to watch a football game and wrote that the team “looked like a herd of red elephants.”