By Beverly Grazulewicz, Festival Sweet Tooth (and Office Manager)

For the past twenty years I have driven past this hidden treasure in the woods, thinking, “Someday we should stop there and see what that place is all about.”  I am embarrassed to say that I never made that stop.  So in July, when the tragic news of a fire that destroyed this landmark hit the news, I was mad at myself for never pulling into the parking lot.  The “treasure” I am referring to is Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.  Well, now I can say, “I’ve been there” and the one word I can use to describe the experience is “Wow.”  It is a pleasure getting to know this generous, community-minded man—the newest Gettysburg Festival Trustee to join our board.

Pulling into the icy parking lot the other night for Mr. Ed’s Sneak Peek was exciting for me, but I was also glad to have a youngster along, as co-worker Karen’s son Kyle had joined us for the evening.  You could sense his excitement too as I pointed out Mr. Ed’s historic truck that has now become part of the building.  A newly painted mural on the truck makes it appear as though it is pulling out of the building.  I could only imagine what was in the truck. 

Entering the building we were greeted by Mr. Ed himself, and he was beaming with pride.  Just six months earlier this kind man was shocked by the devastation of a lifelong business, but lucky for all of us, he brushed the ash from his clothing and said he would rebuild.  Talking with him about this period in his life is still painful, but when he starts to talk about the support he received from the community, the township and his customers, his face relights and you can the pride return.  (It was at this low period, that this generous man reached out to us to donate candy and sponsor underprivileged children at our Gingerbread House Celebration, December 2010.)

The mural made of broken elephants, surrounded beneath by mounds of classic candy

There was so much to take in on that first visit I don’t know where to start.  A massive elephant stands in the center of the room but Mr. Ed’s pride and joy is obviously the large ceramic mural near the ceiling.  At first it’s hard to identify the material, but little glimpses of broken elephants become apparent soon.  The mural was actually created from thousands of pieces of elephants almost destroyed in the fire. 

The room is filled to capacity with candy, and Kyle took it all in.  I think we read each candy wrapper in the place.  Some of the candy will bring back memories, others will make you laugh.  Bring your sweet tooth, there’s something here for everyone (and the homemade fudge is delicious). 

 So now, where are those elephants?  Take a stroll down a short hallway to a room filled (and I do say FILLED) with elephants.  Mr. Ed says he has 9,000 of them – just shy of the 10,000 he had prior to the fire (there’s about 1,000 of them in the mural).  And the elephants keep arriving – days after the fire, packages began to arrive from all over the country. 

The elephant museum!

People wanting to bring his collection backto life.  Admission to the museum is free, but donations are accepted to support local organizations like the SPCA and other non profits.  You could spend hours in this room and not see them all.   I can’t imagine there’s an elephant out there that Mr. Ed doesn’t have in his museum, but you could prove me wrong. 

So now when I am traveling to Chambersburg or points west of Gettysburg I can say, “I’ve been to Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and its amazing”.  Make a trip there soon, you won’t be disappointed.  (And by the way, my mother has a collection of giraffes in her home, probably just 100 of them, but if anyone wants to open a museum, let me know). 

Mr. Ed's very first elephant