This elephant statue was one of the 17 auctioned off by the Town of Erwin. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

Another elephant herd has left the Town of Erwin.

The silent auction for the 17 elephant statues that have decorated downtown Erwin since the spring officially concluded on Nov. 1 and, according to Town of Erwin Communications Specialist Jamie Rice, the auction was a success.

“We raised $4,145 and our cost for the herd was $1,200 dollars,” Rice said. “This means that $2,945 will go to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.”

According to Rice, this year’s herd was different than the herds that have been auctioned off in the past. These elephants were smaller in size and drew a smaller opening bid than the past. This year’s bidding started at $150 versus the $1,500 for past herds.

“The silent auction at Town Hall was a huge success and most elephants had four and five bids each and we had call-in bidders right up until the 4 p.m. cutoff,” Rice said. “There was a handful of people hanging out in Town Hall at the end of the auction to make sure that they got the elephant they wanted.”

Each of the 17 available statues was different.

“The fireman, butterfly, and the large American flag were very popular designs,” Rice said. “The highest bids were for the orange and white polka dot, and black with glittery sunflower design –  they both went for $400 each.”

For those who may be missing this year’s herd, Rice promises that the new herd is already here and will be on display in the spring.

“The new herd has already arrived in Erwin and most statues have already been distributed to the artists and they will have all winter to work on them. They will be out on display on May 2,  for the Great Outdoors Festival,” Rice said. “We have eight fiberglass elephants that are almost 60 inches tall –  the size of a real baby elephant. Our first two herds were only 30 inches, and this year was the smallest at about 24 inches.”

For those wanting to catch an early glimpse of the new herd, there will be preview pictures posted on social media.

“Our artists will be posting progress pictures on our Facebook page, RISE Erwin, throughout the winter,” Rice said.

According to Rice, there are still two of the elephants that need sponsorship.

“Sponsorship costs $1,500 and is tax-deductible,” Rice said. “Elephants will be auctioned in October of 2020 and the sponsor gets to choose the beneficiary of 75 percent of the proceeds. The remaining 25 percent helps cover the costs of the project and goes to the Elephant Sanctuary.”

If you are interested in sponsoring an elephant, please contact Rice at 743-6231.