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St. Paul says "NO!" to elephants

Posted at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

elephant.jpgWe're only six days from the opening of the Republican National Convention, but the city has decided to ban the party's enduring symbol: the elephant.

That's right. You can't host a live elephant in St. Paul during the RNC, according to Bob Kessler, head of the city's licensing office.

And it's not for lack of trying. Mike Runyon, one of the owners of Shamrocks and the Nook, two landmark St. Paul taverns, said he and his partner, Ted Casper, were thinking of having one in front of their Shamrocks restaurant.

They'd apparently located an elephant that might be available at the Renaissance Festival. The festival runs on weekends and Labor Day, through Sept. 26, so one of the animals might have been able to make an appearance in St. Paul on his or her days off.

"Politics and elephants are just a bad mix," Kessler said this morning, after nixing a plan to stand one in front of the Irish-themed eatery on W. 7th Street, near Randolph. "Remember what happened to Jim Scheibel."

For those of you who's memory starts to dim after 18 or 19 years, things started to turn badly for then-mayor Jim Scheibel shortly after he took office in 1990, when he greeted the circus and a strong man put him atop an elephant.

Runyon was audibly disappointed when I called. "We offered to get an elephant and a donkey, just to make it fair," he said, as he was getting ready for the lunch rush today. "It would have been really cool. It's not every day you get the Republican National Convention, you know."

He said customers will have to settle for an RNC menu special: baloney sandwiches. "We might even have a baloney eating contest," he said.

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