MARGATE - The partial federal government shutdown has left many national parks and landmarks closed and in a state of limbo, but South Jersey’s own Lucy the Elephant is open and ready to welcome visitors.

“While Lucy is a National Historic Landmark, which is a program under the National Park Service, we receive no federal funding,” said Richard D. Helfant, executive director/CEO of Lucy the Elephant in an email. “We are privately owned and a self-supporting nonprofit. Therefore, since we do not receive funding from the government, the shutdown does not affect us.”

Lucy the Elephant was built in 1881 in South Atlantic City – now Margate – by James Vincent de Paul Lafferty Jr. to attract visitors to the area. Since then, Lucy has faced many challenges. However, today Lucy is a beloved South Jersey landmark that attracts numerous visitors.

Lucy the Elephant not only holds a special place in New Jersey history, though, she is also is a valued part of national and global history.

“Lucy is important for many reason. She is a National Historic Landmark; one of less than 3,000 in the entire country. She is the oldest roadside attraction in the United States,” said Helfant. “She is the oldest surviving example of zoomorphic (buildings in the shape of animals) in existence. She is actually older than the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. And most importantly, she’s the cutest elephant in the world.”

Lucy the Elephant’s hours for the months of January, February and March are Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lucy the Elephant also will be open on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free to explore the grounds, with a small admission charge to explore inside the famous elephant.

For more information on Lucy the Elephant, please visit

Read or Share this story: