An Open Letter to Jackson’s Westwood Mall Hippopotamus
If that title seems weird, that's because it is...but it's Jackson's kind of weird and we're damn proud of it. Many of us who grew up in Jackson have come to know the hippo that sits in one of the mall entrances and now it's time to show her the love she deserves.
There's a Hippo at the Westwood Mall?
Look, hippo you are definitely one of those "if you know, you know" sort of things. Yet, for those who are in the know, you are a symbol of childhood, a staple at the Westwood Mall and a beacon of hope.
Now, your big, brass self sits so proudly, still with a big smile on your face as you are also tarnished and worn from the many, many years of various Jackson children, fun-loving teens and even nostalgic adults climbing on you.
Many of us do not know where you came from; however, the lovely folks who run the Facebook page for your home at the Westwood Mall shared:
"When Forbes-Cohen began building their malls, a niece who was a sculpting artist, sculpted individual sculptures for each mall they developed. When the mall opened in 1972, Westwood Mall was given a solid brass hippo who has become a staple for Jackson since the day she arrived."
How could a hippopotamus, not native to Jackson or even Michigan at all, come to be such a symbol for a community is beyond us, but just know you are loved and appreciated just the same.
A Part of the Jackson, Michigan Community for Almost 50 Years
Now as your friends who run the Westwood Mall Facebook page mentioned, you have been there since 1972, meaning you are coming up on your 50TH birthday!
That's 50 years of fun, joy and memories you have given us, you beautiful water horse, you.
While many other stores and institutions have trickled in and out of the Westwood Mall over the years, you are the one part that has always remained and that is something to be so proud of.
We truly missed you over the course of the pandemic as, in order to keep you safe (little research has been done on the effects of COVID-19 in hippos), you were quarantined from the public:
However, even while you were kept away from us for a little while, you still sparked so much joy in all who saw you and many even shared their favorite memories you helped them make.
Thank You For Being You, Westwood Mall Hippo
We all could go on and on about how much you mean to us in even the smallest of ways, and we don't even know your name!
You have always given such a warm welcome and remained a symbol of childhood for many.
You provide a sense of stability in a place that is consistently changing around you, and not many things can do that.
Just the other day, I happened to walk past you, sitting free from your shackles of quarantine as busy shoppers making last-minute purchases waltzed right past you without a second glance and I just had to stop and take a moment to let you know I truly appreciate you.
Without you, the Westwood Mall would just be another place with some stores to go shop around at like those other malls. You make the experience different, you make the experience whole.
We love you, miss hippo, and cannot wait to celebrate "Hippo Day" with you every January 26th because you deserve it!
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