Mighty Joe- The Gorilla

Mighty Joe’s Grill & Gas Station

1231 U.S. 206
Shamong, NJ 08088
(609) 268-0303

Between the “Red Lion Circle” and on your way toward Hammonton on Rt. 206, travelers will see this “Mighty” gorilla sitting in a gas station/grill parking lot. Most think it’s just another one of those eccentric landmarks that you see on the Black & White Horse Pikes (Nitro Girl, for example). However, there’s a story behind this big guy and it is rather touching.


The Valenzano family (yes, the wine family) erected this “monument” in tribute to their son, Joe. It is known as “Mighty Joe” by the locals.


The inscription reads, “My name is Mighty Joe. I have been placed here by the Valenzano family as a memorial and to pay tribute to their son Joseph who now lives in the kingdom of heaven. Joe was a big part of the family business and he was an avid bodybuilder and in many regards he was called, “Mighty Joe” at times by his family and friends. Joe was not only mighty in his appearance but also in courage, spirit and love of his family. Joe is truly missed by his family and friends but not forgotten and he is always in their thoughts and prayers. My job is to look up to heaven from time to time and say ” HEY JOE WE WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” and to welcome you to our family business. God bless you and thanks for coming to see me….”

•Mighty Joe•

Joe died of brain cancer in 1999, but his memory lives on.

If this gorilla looks familiar to you… It was a ride in Wildwood at one time. A sliding board was once sticking out of this gorilla’s hairy chest. Apparently, the sign is covering up the hole.

I think it’s a wonderful tribute to their son. I can’t imagine losing a child. May Joe’s memory live on!

Until our next adventure, my friends!

-The Yummygal

3 thoughts on “Mighty Joe- The Gorilla

  1. I spent every summer in my teens through 20s in Cape May. On one rebelious winter night, friends and I snuck into the gorilla slide in Wildwood after hanging out at a friends house across the street on the inlet… just this past summer, we drove past that abandoned place and I told my husband about the gorilla. I said, “I wonder what happened to him!” I literally am binge reading your blog and learning sooooo much!

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