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The Great Neck Giraffe:  Mascot of the Town of Great Neck

Giraffe

Many people know the Town mascot as the Great Neck Giraffe, but many people do not know of its origins.
The Kensington Giraffe is located on the village green, one of the village many green spaces, right across from Middle Neck Road. The Giraffe sculpture designed by and built by Nat Epstein, a resident of Great Neck. Mr. Epstein, an amateur sculpture who has had some of his work displayed at the Chiam Weizman Institute and Temple Beth El Synagogue, was a long time Great Neck resident until his retirement to Florida in 1969. Unfortunately Mr. Epstein passed away in 1976 before his statue found a home.

Mr. Epstein wanted his work to be displayed in a public place, and through the efforts of his daughters Mrs. Karen Weintraub and Mrs. Serena Cummins contacted Mayor Seymour Cohen. Mayor Cohen and the board of trustees welcomed the Giraffe to the village green in November 1980, where it has remained since.
Although the statue looks incomplete it has been well maintained in remains in good condition. Some changes that have occurred include changing the position of the head. Mr. Epstein has originally positioned the head to the side, though upon its inception it was turned forward to face a nearby tree. Many people speculate the statue was incomplete the head is in fact only an outline, and not fabricated with the same steel wiring used on the rest of the body. Recently the welding holding that held the head in place has loosened and during the winter months when the trees are bare the giraffe appears headless But during the spring and summer when the trees are in full bloom the head is buried in the trees and less noticeable.
Over the years the giraffe has become known as the mascot for the town because of its location in Great Neck as well as the Giraffe connotations for having "a great long neck" or "Great Neck". Please feel free to visit this local mascot and legend during daylight hours 365 days a year.

Newsday:  November 24, 1980

 

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