TULSA, Okla. — An iconic tourist attraction along Route 66 has a fresh coat of paint after it was vandalized this week.
Catoosa's Blue Whale has become a treasure for the city, but this week it was the target of vandals.
“Yesterday morning, a sweet family who had climbed up the blue whale’s head for the great photo op, came in here and said, you may want to come here and look,” Liz Huckleby said.
When Park Director, Liz Huckleby, went to go look, she found what she describes as crude vandalism.
“It was spray painted, dark purple spray paint and very, very thick and very crude,” Huckleby said.
That's why they're working to keep this from happening again.
“We temporarily have it closed, while we figure that out, but most likely, in the future it will only be open during gift shop hours," Huckleby said.
Every year, the Blue Whale draws thousands of Route 66 travelers to Catoosa.
People swim, picnic, and fish here.
Beyond serving as a landmark where visitors make memories, those who stop, love learning about its history.
“We’re travelling from Arkansas," a tourist said.
The pond where the Blue Whale sits was part of the Davis Family's property.
In the 1960s, zoologist Hugh S. Davis drafted sketches of the big fish.
Then, in the early 70s, he retired from the Tulsa Zoo and with the help of a friend built the 20-foot-tall and 80-foot-long structure.
Almost immediately, the unpainted whale began attracting tourists from all around the world, and quickly became a popular tourist attraction along Route 66.
“The Blue Whale is almost synonymous with the route,” Huckleby said.
Through the 70s and 80s, it was a swim park. In the 90s, it was abandoned and overgrown.
Then, in the early 2000s, volunteers and family members restored it.
“Early 2020, the city bought it and this year, we just opened the gift shop about a month ago and as the gift shop grows, we’re going to do even more improvements to the park," Huckleby said.
As soon as the city learned about the vandalism, maintenance workers showed up to paint over it.
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