RICHLAND -- Richland officials are counting down the days until the city's beloved elephant slide returns to his former home in Howard Amon Park.
The city is planning a celebration at 10 a.m. Sept. 18 in the park that includes an unveiling of the refurbished children's toy as well as fun activities for families who attend.
The slide affectionately known as "Mr. Elephant" was a children's favorite in Howard Amon Park from the 1960s until 2003.
It languished in storage for several years after being removed from the park because the slide no longer met safety requirements.
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But then the city posted a picture of the antique slide on its Facebook page late in 2009, and dozens of past and present Richland residents responded with their memories of Mr. Elephant. They also asked where he had gone and whether he might ever return.
When people heard Mr. Elephant was gathering dust at city shops, about a dozen businesses and people offered to restore the popular playground toy.
The city accepted an offer from Total Energy Management to restore the metal slide, and the refurbished slide was turned back over to the city June 17.
The slide is on display at the Community Center until it returns to the park.
"We're planning a fun return of the slide for the community," said city spokeswoman Candace Andrews. "We're expecting lots of people of all ages. One of the fun things about this is so many people remember going down the slide as children, and now want to bring their children or grandchildren to slide down."
Mr. Elephant will be placed in a shady spot near the Sturgeon Cove playground, close to where he originally provided decades of fun for Richland children.