J.J. the Gray Whale may soon have her own trademark.
Friends of La Jolla Shores, who are raising funds to put a sculpture of the baby whale at Kellogg Park, are preparing an application to the state for official recognition of the whale’s image as a trademarked property, said Mary Coakley, who has been closely involved with restoring the Kellogg Park area.
“It will give us the right to produce merchandise to support Friends of La Jolla Shores and to provide new desirable products for our shops in the Shores to stimulate business,” she said last week.
Beyond that, it will create a vehicle to raise funds for maintenance of the park and an identity the community can rally around, added Jim Heaton, chairman of the La Jolla Shores Association and a member of the Friends board.
J.J. was rescued from a beach in Marina del Rey in January 1991 when just a week old. SeaWorld transported her to San Diego, where trainers and staff nursed her back to health. She was released back to the ocean when she was just over a year old.
The Friends board is contemplating what type of items it might want to create, assuming the trademark application is approved, Coakley said.
SeaWorld had trademarks years ago, but abandoned all of them, she added, noting that when the Friends realized that they could apply for it, the board did not hesitate.
The Friends have been responsible for the community effort to replace playground equipment at Kellogg Park that had been removed by the city and came up with the idea of using J.J.'s likeness to take the place of the dolphins that were taken out.
“SeaWorld has been very supportive of the project,” said Coakley, who has worked closely with sculptor D. Lynn Reeves, to get the sculpture designed. They helped Reeves with details on J.J.'s appearance and also on tile panels called “The Amazing Story of J.J., as told by her trainers and vets at SeaWorld” that will be installed along the sea wall around the park.
“It’s been a great pleasure to provide assistance as they put the project together,” SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz said.
A nearly finished bronze quarter-scale model back of the baby just came back from the foundry, and the full-scale one should be transported for bronzing soon.
It’s possible, Heaton said, that copies of the model could be auctioned off at some point to help support Shores programs.
“We’ve been told that it’s a 2,000-year piece of art, something timeless,” he said, adding that the potential for the sculpture and the logo itself could become as iconic for La Jolla Shores as the Maui whale’s tail.
When completed, the life-size sculpture will be added to the north end of the park, which reopened on July 3 with its new colorful, ocean-oriented play structure. It’s adjacent to The Map, a representation of the La Jolla Marine Reserve. Still to be added are interpretive panels explaining the sea life in the reserve and J.J. story panels.
The Friends of the Shores recently filed with the state as a nonprofit 501(c)3 to handle the funds raised for the park project. Initially, funds went through La Jolla Park & Recreation Inc.
To date, more than 350 people have contributed about $40,000 for The Map and the fish I.D. cards, and 210 donors have given nearly $227,000 for the playground project and J.J., Coakley said.
The Friends recently received a commitment for an additional $50,000 for J.J. from two donors, whose names have yet to be released. They’re about $50,000 short of completing the entire project, which is set for completion by year’s end.
The bronze model, used to scale up the full-sized J.J., will be shown off at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 10.
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