This feature is not affiliated with Ulele Restaurant, the Columbia Restaurant Group, or any of its directors or employees.

The epic day has arrived!
The grand idea has become reality as Fairyland begins to take shape at Columbia Restaurant Group's Ulele Restaurant, thanks to Richard Gonzmart's vision and determination, along with the magical talent of artist Jason Hulfish.  Fans of Fairyland everywhere are dazzled and rejoice at the sight of this photo posted by Richard on his Facebook page.


2017-July 17 - Richard Gonzmart shared his photo of Rusty & Rex with the 3 Little Pigs scene, Ulele Restaurant
"The three little pigs think they have domesticated the big bad wolf...that is as long as the pigs don't try to bother me. Thank you Jason Hulfish for the expert and outstanding restoration of these iconic Fairyland figurines."

The Piggies before their extreme makeover. 



2017-July 18 - Dan created the "Fairyland at Ulele Restaurant" photo album at the Save Fairyland group, with Richard's photo and added his photos of Humpty Dumpty on the roof of Ulele.

Humpty may have had a great fall, but he's having a much better summer at Ulele Restaurant.
He gets to watch the beautiful sunsets over the Tampa Riverwalk and the Hillsborough River.





Humpty before his reconstruction surgery.



2017-July 20 - Jack and the Beanstalk are up at Ulele, Richard Gonzmart posted these photos and this comment:

"And You Know Things Now That You've Never Known Before."~ Jack
Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best. Thank you Jason Hulfish for another great job of making the figures look better then when they were new and for bringing the figures back to life.

"Jack gazing at the beanstalk as he prepares to chop it down."

"Young Jack realizes he should have not sold the cow for a dream of stealing the giants riches."

Jason's task was even more daunting than Jack's


2017 December - The four mice and pumpkin from the "Cinderella in Rags" scene are displayed at Ulele.

How lovely it would be if I could live my fantasy, but in the middle of my dreaming they're screaming at me. Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, gotta help our Cinderelly. Got no time to dilly dally, we gotta get it going.

Photos above by Susan Royal Jones.

The mice were looking really  ratty.





Hickory Dickory Dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
and Kimi rushed out
To see her favorite piece
Before the mouse ran down.

Hickory Dickory Dock.

Feb. 17, 2018 Photos courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo


     2017 - Dec. 23 - Friends of Fairyland are shocked and angered when one of the 3 Little Pigs was vandalized.

Photo provided by Maria Williams Trippe


2017 Dec. 24 - ULELE posted the following, along with the surveillance video.

We’re sad to report that one of the restored historic Fairyland figures installed at Ulele earlier this year was damaged Saturday by children who deliberately and repeatedly pushed and pulled one of the fiberglass Three Little Pigs until it broke off its concrete-secured base - all while an adult watched.

These historic fairytale characters, which entertained generations at Lowry Park Zoo, have been lovingly restored by Richard Gonzmart — at a cost of $100,000 so far — for your enjoyment.

We can’t believe we actually have to say this, but we ask that you please touch the figures only with your eyes!

Photo provided by Maria Williams Trippe

To help us enforce this eyes-only policy, we have security cameras in place at Ulele to potentially identify any person causing intentional damage to the Fairyland figures. We remain hopeful that adults will teach their children the respect necessary so that these important art works from Tampa’s history can live happily ever after.

2017 - Dec. 26: Fox 13 ran this feature story.

Children vandalized beloved statues

Evan Axelbank on the scene:

Linda Hurtado intro to live shot from Ulele
"Evan, this has angered a whole lot of people."

Evan Axelbank live coverage
"The damage that was done here is hurting those who put together this project very hard...tonight they are saying that they have learned their lesson; even history isn't safe."


Tampa Natives Show host Mario Nuñez, "The third little piggy was here..." 
Axelbank:  "Instead of huffing and puffing, the kids were pushing and pulling."

"It's like, 'How dare you, HOW DARE YOU'..."

"Because so many of us have put in so much into this..."

"It was a disgrace."


"For me personally it was a personal attack."
(Graphics timing was off, this is Mario Nuñez,
not R.G. Ulele owner.)

By Axelbank: "Mario Nuñez, himself a Tampa history buff, first found the figurines at a city storage facility decades after Fairyland closed."


Axelbank: "Restaurateur Richard Gonzmart put up $100,000 for artist Jason Hulfish to restore them."

"They were installed at Waterworks Park earlier this year to hang on to nostalgia."


Richard Gonzmart: "What I hope is that people will just realize and respect these pieces that
so many people that call Tampa home, they cherish those memories."


2017 - Dec. 26: Fox 13 also ran this feature story.
Video reveals children vandalized beloved statues


Aaron Mesmer on the scene.
The title which refers to "thieves" should read "vandals." Nothing was stolen.
Gonzmart paid $30,000 for ALL the figures, not just the 3 little pigs scene.


Aaron, what did Mr. Gonzmart have to say about this?

He's upset and disappointed.  He put a lot of time and a lot of money into making this park a place where children could come learn and play.



As a 65-year-old man, I go back to when I was 4 or 5 years old.

He wanted to create some of those memories in a park outside Ulele, one of his newer ventures.


He started with the 3 little pigs.  Gonzmart paid $30,000** to buy them at auction, and have them restored by artist Jason Hulfish. (**RG bought ALL the Fairyland figures for just under that amount, not just for the 3 little pigs.)

 It's all about trying to teach history and encourage children to want to learn, to want to read.


That's why it hurts so much to see one of those pigs toppled, not by a big bad wolf, but by some unsupervised kids Saturday. 

Surveillance video shows children rough-housing the statue.


It saddens me to see children not respecting, and trying to knock him over.

Eventually, a third little girl joins the fray, and that's when the figure falls over.

Surveillance photos from Fox 13 News


What scares me is that you see a young girl, probably 5 years old, she grabs hold of his hands and pulled it, it fell forward.

  And it weighs over 100 lbs.  If that landed on her, what might have happened?


Most of all he wonders where the parents were. Some adults can be seen running away with the kids afterwards. "These parents had no respect for this art work."

Hulfish will save the statue once more, this time for free.


"When you do it once, it's difficult enough.  Now we're gonna go back and rework and try to save the integrity of the piece we already did once. Fret not, the pigs will stand again."

Gonzmart doesn't want an arrest, he just hopes these kids, and their parents, learn a valuable lesson.


Richard Gonzmart: "What I hope is that people will just realize and respect these pieces that so many people that call Tampa home, they cherish those memories."

We've had people come up to us, in the past 30 minutes or so,  and tell us they remember these statues.  This is just part of what Richard Gonzmart wanted to bring to this restaurant.  All told, he's poured about $100,000 into buying these and restoring them.

It looks like by the end of this, it will have a happy ending.




2017 Dec. 24 - Richard responded to a comment by someone who offered to repair the damaged figure:

Thank you!  Jason Hulfish who has been restoring all the figurines has offered to repair the fractured pig at no cost. Thank you Jason!


Piggy #2 in the E.R. for Dr. Hulfish to operate on.
Photo posted by Ulele



2017 Dec. 28 -  Mario Núñez posted a link on his page to the Fox 13 interview with Evan Axelbank discussing the December 23rd vandalism on the property of Ulele Restaurant.

"Thank you to WTVT for keeping this evolving story on the 'front burner'. It would be nice to find out who the adults were behind this intentional act of destruction of private property. Namely, Richard Gonzmart's private property." --Mario

Photo courtesy of Sally Núñez


2018 - Jan. 14 Ulele Restaurant announces the sale of Fairyland Characters at Ulele tee-shirts.

Once upon a time (OK, well, exactly a year ago today), a prince (let’s call him Richard) spent many coins of the realm as part of his quest to reclaim the much-beloved Fairyland nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters from auction and give them back to the community.

Humpty Dumpty, Cinderella, Snow White and others had been abandoned for more than 20 years after the attraction closed at Lowry Park.

Now some of them have been lovingly restored and are on display at Ulele, with more to come (Cinderella’s still at the spa).

We ask that you please touch these historic works of art only with your eyes. But if you want to take a bit of magic home with you, we do have some new Fairyland shirts on sale at Ulele so you, too, can live happily ever after. But act quickly. They’re only available until the spell wears off.

2018 - Jan 19:   Jeff Houck posted this update on the Save Fairyland Facebook group:

Fairyland Update: One of the damaged Three Little Pigs displayed at Ulele is back at the shop for repairs. Visitors who love the figures a little too vigorously continue to cause damage, though, so we’ve posted signs to gently ask that the fairytale characters be touched only with your eyes so that they can live happily ever after.

Photos by Jeff Houck


Damage before piggy #2 was knocked over.
Looks like a hammer or a rock thrown at it, or maybe a rock flung by a lawn mower?


2018 - March 28:  Jason Hulfish pulls rabbits out of his hat once again with this magical restoration--Cinderella in rags and her loving fairy godmother taking their places alongside those four lucky mice and the soon-to-be majestic coach pumpkin. 

Jeff Houck shared his photos in the Save Fairyland group, along with these comments: 

Fairyland Update: We’ve added a few new restored characters at Ulele from the former Lowry Park Zoo exhibit (now Zoo Tampa) and brought back a few others that were in the shop for repairs. Two of the Three Little Pigs are back from the spa, Golden-haired Cinderella stands ready for enchantment with her broom as her regal-looking Fairy Godmother in a beautiful gown looks ready to cast a happy spell. As always, you can view Jack and his beanstalk, the mouse and Hickory Dickory Dock and, of course, Humpty Dumpty sitting on his brick wall overlooking the Tampa Riverwalk and the Hillsborough River. We ask again that while enjoying these beautiful restorations by artist Jason Hulfish, you touch them only with your eyes so that all will live happily ever after.

This photo is stitched together from 3 images.  The original is a panoramic partial 360 degree photo taken by Jeff Houck of the Columbia Restaurant Group can be panned left/right here for viewing.


Seeing what Jason had to start with, it was more on the magnitude of making the Sulphur Springs water tower disappear!

Photos above by Sally Nuñez


Photos above and below by Jeff Houck, Columbia Restaurant Group

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo...

It'll do magic believe it or not--Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.



2018 - June 12:  Jeff Houck posted his photo of the Three Little Pigs reunited once more, with this comment:

Good news: Ulele’s at full strength in the diminutive pig department once again. One of them went too heavy on Arm Day at the gym and needed some appendage therapy. All three little guys are well and happy adjacent to their house of sticks.

Photo by Jeff Houck, Columbia Restaurant Group

Add Veterinary Orthopedic Surgery to the list of Jason Hulfish magical skills!


2019 - Sept. 13:  SOMEBODY WAKE THIS BOY UP!!
Beautiful photography by Jeff Houck of Columbia Restaurant Group from the Ulele Facebook page

Little Boy Blue taking a break.
Another amazing restoration by Jason Hulfish!

Get up, kid!  There's work to do!





This feature is not affiliated with Ulele Restaurant, the Columbia Restaurant Group, or any of its directors or employees.

Feb. 11, 2017
Photo by Tampapix



The story of the Indian princess Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) and that of the Ulele Spring as well as the restaurant building are like fairytales themselves. 

Located in Tampa’s once abandoned, turn-of-the-century water works building, Ulele Restaurant is a restored example of the area’s architectural history, while also finding new functionality.  Beck’s design and construction teams transformed the historic water pumping station into Ulele, one of Tampa’s most anticipated new restaurants.

Ulele Restaurant is the centerpiece of a larger, ongoing civic revitalization effort that includes a new waterfront park and playground, as well as winding pedestrian pathways, in an underutilized area just north of the downtown on the final leg of the Tampa Riverwalk. Beck carefully renovated the building with both functional and aesthetic components to support the new restaurant, while also being careful to preserve the historic character and exterior red brick façade. Outside, the restaurant grounds include a beer garden and brew house, as well as a natural spring that empties into a lagoon featuring a bronze statue of Ulele, the mythic Native American princess for whom the restaurant is named.

See beautiful photos of the restaurant, inside and out, at the Beck website where the above info comes from.

Photo by TampaPix

Photo by TampaPix

Feb. 11, 2017
Photo by TampaPix

Learn more about all the Uleles and see photos:
The account of the Native American Princess and Juan Ortiz, the Spanish explorer whose life she saved
Richard Gonzmart's inspiration for Ulele and the beautiful bronze sculptures by Vala Ola
A brief history of Tampa's waterworks and some springs:
The Government spring, Tampa's first water source--exactly where was it?
The Florida Brewing Co. and the Ybor City Ice Co.--where were they?
The Ybor City "No Name" spring, where was it?
The Tampa Heights Magbee spring
The amazing transformation of the Magbee spring into the beautiful Ulele spring
and finally,
Who was James T. Magbee?

All on Page 7 of Saving Fairyland!

Saving Fairyland
Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6   Page 7

Lowry Park/Fairyland History    Herman - King of the Zoo     Safety Village      Fantasia Golf

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