Do You Know South Jersey’s Mighty Joe Gorilla?
He lives among the Pine Barrens now, but he once called the Jersey Shore home.
When the original SoJO 104.9 studio was located in Trenton, I used to drive Route 206 to get there every day. I'd always pass by a giant, faux gorilla known as 'Mighty Joe', and thought, 'what the heck is that thing doing there?'.
According to WeirdNJ.com, 25-foot tall Joe was not always the gorilla's name. He once went by "Kongo-Pongo" or "Magilla" when he was part of an amusement park on the Wildwood boardwalk. Then he became "George" when he was moved to the old Island Family Fun Park on Route 47 across the George Redding Bridge.
These days, Mighty Joe stands as a mascot for the gas station and deli on Route 206 in Shamong out in Burlington County, called Mighty Joe’s. The pit stop, owned by Larry Valenzano, was named in honor of his late son Joe who died from a brain tumor, according to Courier Post.
So, perhaps the next time you pass Mighty Joe, you'll think of Joe Valenzano and his mighty battle for life, as the giant fiberglass beast has come to take on more sentimental meaning.