Dan Bewley, News 9

CATOOSA, Oklahoma -- A Route 66 icon has a fresh, new look. The Blue Whale in Catoosa spent last week getting a new paint job. It was all thanks to the generosity of a Tulsa business.

After almost 40 years, the landmark still hasn't lost its charm.

It's big; it's blue, and it's a whale. The big Blue Whale of Catoosa has called Oklahoma home since the early '70s.

"We are big fans of the whale," said Tulsa resident Peter Bedgood.

Peter Bedgood and his wife were one of hundreds of people to visit the whale this weekend.

"We've driven by a few times but never stopped in to actually see it, so we took a look today - nice weather," said Jennifer Bedgood.

The Blue Whale was finished in 1972. It's 80 feet long and 15 feet high.

"One of our next projects is to re-deck this," said Blaine Davis, Blue Whale curator.

It was built by Blaine Davis' father, who gave it to his wife as an anniversary present.

"She thought that was different, but they had been married many years and she knew to expect about anything," Davis said.

The Blue Whale was originally part of a children's zoo on the property that nestles up to Route 66. In the '70s and '80s it was a popular swimming hole for kids and a rest stop for drivers making their way along the historic highway.

You can no longer swim here, but Davis says the blue whale has never lost its charm. Visitors come here from all over the world.

"We have people from India; we have people from Japan, Norwegians," said Curator Blaine Davis.

Kristy Harrington had shorter trip. She's from Tulsa and brought her son here for the first time.

Dan Bewley, News On 6: "What does this look like?"
Kristy Harrington, Tulsa Resident: "Can you say, 'big whale?'"
Jackson Harrington, age 2: "Big whale."
Dan Bewley: "Is it pretty neat?"
Jackson Harrington: "Yeah, blue whale."

But being outside, the whale takes quite a beating from Mother Nature. Since the whale is still privately run by the Davis family, the purse strings are usually pretty tight.

Last week the Bill Haynes Company donated its time, talent, and paint to renovate the whale. Davis says the new coat of paint should last another 35 years - plenty of time for anyone looking for a bit of nostalgia.

"It brings back a lot of good memories to everybody," Blaine Davis said.

The Blue Whale will undergo a mini-makeover in late October when an elaborate lighting system will turn it pink in honor of breast cancer awareness and Blaine's sister who died of the disease in 2006.