The days of Never Never Land’s remaining statues being housed by Metro Parks are numbered—down to 14, to be exact. Between September 8 and September 22 those hoping to own a piece of Tacoma history can bid on the remaining pieces, from Little Miss Muffet to the Three Little Pigs.
News of the auction may come as a surprise to many, but what to do with the figures has been an issue since 2011, when an arsonist set the Point Defiance Pagoda on fire.
“After unsuccessful pursuits to find a public space to house the handful of remaining pieces, the Board of Park Commissioners voted in June to deaccession the remaining items,” a statement from Metro Parks explains.
So, if there happens to be a space in your yard just perfect for an 8-foot, 200-pound Humpty Dumpty statue, hop to it—and bring your cash. Starting bid for the big guy is $5,000.
To be fair, it sounds like Metro Parks is a little sad to see them go.
“We understand the community’s nostalgic feelings for Never Never Land,” spokesperson Nancy Johnson shared.
“I and many Metro Parks staff visited Never Never Land or brought our kids when it was operating, so we can relate to the fond memories that many Tacomans share from the early years when the private concession was in its heyday. We also recognize that it’s difficult for some who were a part of that era to understand how societal changes over the past half-century impact the ability to sustain something like Never Never Land today.”
The park opened to throngs of visitors in 1964, but the attraction’s popularity dwindled over the following 20 years. Eventually the original private owners sold the statues to Metro Parks. For years the statues were hauled out of storage and displayed in the summer months, but decades of weathering, climbing children, and vandalism took their toll. They saw their last time in the sun in 2001.
For many years rumors swirled about the statues being stored in the basement of a building in downtown Tacoma, but more than likely those figurines were pieces from other parks around the country.
In 2019, father and son duo Dave and Brandon Mitzel embarked on a mission to bring Never Never Land back to life. Though word of the attempt was celebrated by those nostalgic for the park the enthusiasm failed to translate to the monetary support needed, and attempts to secure a location for the recreated park were unsuccessful.
“After unfortunate states of events, I believe we are pulling the plug on this project,” a statement posted on their Facebook page reads. “Metro Parks Tacoma just put the NNL figures for auction on their website and other parks departments are just as bad as MPT when it comes to development. It’s just not worth it.”
“We have been going strong for over two years though and we’re very thankful of your support. We will NOT be deleting this page and we will still post memories shared with us of NNL. We are still open to ideas but I just don’t think our project is going to come to life anymore.”
It’s hard to see pieces of Tacoma history go to wherever the highest bidder cares to take them, but on the upside, proceeds from the auction of the figures will support Metro Parks’ other public art and historic assets.