Mill Valley artist Robert Varriale and the elephant fountain he created in 1993 for the Town Center Corte Madera. Courtesy image.

One of the Town Center Corte Madera’s favorite attractions for kiddos is getting a new sheen and a new home.

The elephant fountain, which has been a gathering place for families at the outdoor mall since Mill Valley artist Robert Varriale created it in 1993, was removed in June, and Varriale is in the midst of a full restoration of it.

Varriale, who moved to the Bay Area from his hometown outside Milan, Italy in 1984 and arrived in Mill Valley in 1996, says he’s excited to give his creation a fresh look.

“I’m working on it as we speak,” says Varriale, who has led Greenwood School students and parents on a number of artistic projects in recent years. “I’m removing all of the deposits of calcium and dirt that have built up over the years – 22 years of weather – and stripping everything down to metal before I apply a completely new finish to it.”

Town Center General Manager Monty Stephens says the elephant fountain will be relocated to the south end of the property in the first quarter of 2016, near the Barnes & Noble. The relocation was part of a larger effort to open up the central portion of the outdoor mall to allow additional space for an expanding slate of live events, including live music, holiday gatherings, the upcoming “Get Out and Play Day” on October 3 and the annual Taste of Town Center event, says Stephens.

“We have some fantastic retailers for whom we’re trying to open that up for more common area events,” says Stephens, who was born and raised in Larkspur and took over the Town Center in March. “The community really loves events here, so we’re going to have more of them.”

Town Center Corte Madera officials have created a community campaign to name the elephant fountain, garnering more than 3,000 suggestions in doing so. The most popular of the suggested name will be unveiled at a ceremony in early 2016 (date TBD).

“The beautiful elephant represents a playful, whimsical, fun element that families have enjoyed for many years here so it makes perfect sense to ask the community to help us name our new elephant,” Stephens says.

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