, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 26, 2013

Tilly the whale on the move Wednesday

Locals share memories of iconic but distressed sculpture

SALISBURY — It’s hard to imagine that an old, disintegrating whale sculpture could generate more loyalty than the one that’s been ensconced deep in the bushes off Beach Road for more than half a century.

But since its existence was threatened by a new housing development planned for its 191 Beach Road home, the welfare of that whale — whether known as Pinkie, Jesse or Tilly — has been the focus of attention of many, including men and women at the Newbury barracks of the Massachusetts State Police.

And when a plea for information about the whale was sent out, readers responded with great memories. Not only has her rescue schedule been shared, but her origin has been revealed by one of the men who built her right where she’s beached, more than 50 years ago.

When people realized construction of an apartment complex at the former sites of Kartland and Nat’s Fun Park could bring the demise of the grayish, pinkish, crumbling, land-based sea mammal replica, some big-hearted individuals decided it was fish or cut bait time. Both Jason Rivera and Martha Dastous rallied to save the whale, and it appears that could happen soon.

According to Dastous, a group has worked since winter to save the whale she lovingly knows as “Tilly.” An attempt to move the creature will begin at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. For updates on this effort, visit the website at

After meeting with Salisbury Public Works director Donald Levesque and Town Manager Neil Harrington, Dastous and Rivera received permission “to put Tilly on town land outside the skate park on Beach Road near the center.”

Dastous said there’s been a lot of interest in saving this whale, but Steve Contarino from Haverhill-based Adamson Industries is the one making it possible by volunteering his time and equipment free of charge.

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