BRANDON - In 1974, Arthur Yambor decided to paint the elephant statue he recently had acquired. In doing so he inadvertently created one of the more colorful pieces of Brandon's history.
"Originally, the elephant statue was gray, but Arthur was a character," said Paula Yambor of her husband of almost 35 years who died in 2004. "He went out one night and painted the elephant pink so people passing by in traffic the next morning would get a surprise."
"Elephant" and "Camel" are the names Yambor uses to refer to the 2,000-pound pink elephant statue and a slightly lighter-shaded statue depicting George Washington riding atop a purple camel. They have stood for 39 years on the property previously occupied by Shelton's plant nursery at Brandon Boulevard and Limona Road.
Now Yambor is looking to sell the 0.7 acres and hopes prospective buyers will respect the history of the statues.
"Preferably it'll be someone in Brandon," Yambor said. "I'm also looking to sell them together; they've been friends for almost 40 years and they should stay together."
Arthur picked up "Elephant" and "Camel" as payment for moving a collection of pieces from a property off U.S. 301. He hauled the concrete statues in a boom truck.
The Yambors had met nursery owner Andrew Shelton a few years earlier.
"He'd gone through something like three managers in the first year he had the nursery," she said. "He offered Arthur a full-time manager position at the nursery."
Yambor took over the nursery following Shelton's death in the late 1970s or early 1980s, his wife said. The property was cleared out in December 2004.
Meanwhile, the statues became Brandon-area fixtures.
"It's a landmark," said Lisa Rodriguez, marketing director for Center Place and former honorary mayor of Brandon. Rodriguez's family has been in the area since 1968. "People use them to give directions; 'the next street after the pink elephant.' "
Arthur temporarily painted "Elephant" silver in 1997 to commemorate Shelton Nursery's 25th anniversary, which caused a minor uproar.
"People were not happy and they asked us to paint it back very quickly," Paula Yambor said.
Yambor has opened the bidding at $1,100 for "Elephant" and $500 for "Camel." The history of these Brandon icons also includes a rumor that the hollow statues were used to store alcohol during Prohibition. Yambor said she can't confirm that rumor.
She plans to accept bids through mid-July.
"I hope somebody comes forward," Rodriguez said. "It would be a neat piece of history to keep in the area."
For information or to place a bid on the statues, call Paula Yambor at (813) 689-6124.