On This Day In 1955 – An Elephant Started Making Streets Safer For Kids

Elmer the Safety Elephant was born in 1947. Elmer had some pretty simple rules: “Look both ways before crossing the street,” and “Keep away from parked cars.” But they worked. Traffic accidents involving children dropped by 44 per cent the year after he was introduced, even though vehicle registrations had increased by 10 per cent!

The first Elmer was a standard jungle elephant in profile. However, organizers felt a more dynamic character was needed to catch the imagination of young children. So, a Winnipeg artist by the name of Charles Thorson was brought in to help. He had worked at Walt Disney studios. Charles worked for months to create a new and exciting Elmer, who appeared in 1948. As part of his new image, costumes were created so Elmer could appear in schools and at events, including Saturday movie matinees.

Elmer’s popularity grew by leaps and bounds and in 1962, with requests for Elmer pouring in from other provinces, the Canadian Highway Safety Council was asked to assume administration of the program on a national level. In 1968 that Council amalgamated with two other national safety organizations to form the Canada Safety Council, which still holds the trademark and copyright for Elmer the Safety Elephant.

Image sources: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/124130533449031729/?lp=true

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