The iconic Hollywood sign that sits atop the hill overlooking Hollywood in Los Angeles has been altered by a prankster overnight who changed the sign to read “Hollyweed,” perhaps in recognition of California’s recent status as a state that has legalized recreational cannabis.
According to CBS Los Angeles, the incident is being investigated as misdemeanor trespassing by the security service in charge of watching over the sign. Sgt. Trudea of the security service said someone climbed the mountain around midnight and used tarps to change the appearance of the sign to read “Hollyweed.”
— Victoria Callow (@Toria_Callow) January 1, 2017
This is actually the second time the sign has been changed to Hollyweed. On January 1, 1976, a similar prank occurred in response to the relaxing of cannabis laws in the state, according to Dangerous Minds. The site explains what happened.
“On January 1, 1976, Tinseltown’s iconic sign read ‘Hollyweed’ after art student Danny Finegood and 3 of his college pals used $50 worth of dark fabric to transform the famous Hollywood landmark temporarily. They had practiced it first on a scale model Finegood had crafted.”
Folk-singer David Batterson wrote a song about the 1976 “Hollyweed” incident. Perhaps Snoop Dog will consider sampling the original for a hip-hop update.
People were once allowed to hike up to the Hollywood sign, but in 1978 security was tightened, partly in response to the 1976 “Hollyweed” incident. On the sign’s official website, details are given about the security measures in place and why they exist.
“Over the years, the Sign nearly disappeared forever due to the combined efforts of vandals, pranksters, and neglect,” the site says. “Footpaths up the slope became jagged, unsightly erosion sites that ate away at the side of Mt. Lee. Nearby residents in the Hollywoodland community had to deal with unwanted foot traffic through their properties, sometimes by dangerously intoxicated groups of people. Joke additions to the Sign or changes to the letters, which might seem harmless enough, created hazardous work for city workers who had to restore the Sign back to normal.”
The site also lists some of the specific security measures in place around the sign and on the hill where it sits.
- A tall perimeter fence with razor wire
- 24-hour electronic surveillance by City of Los Angeles authorities
- Infrared lights and cameras that can see equally as well in the day and on a moonless night
- Monitoring microphones and bullhorns
- Web cameras
- Motion sensors
- Regular patrol visits by city police and park ranger helicopters
Despite all of those measures, the prankster still managed to reach the Hollywood sign and change it to “Hollyweed.” According to Variety, officials confirmed security footage of the sign being changed to “Hollyweed” does exist but have not stated whether they will be releasing it to the public.
The Hollywood sign was changed to say Hollyweed today pic.twitter.com/NSWmbgz9aP
— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) January 1, 2017
According to SF Weekly, Proposition 64 was voted into law on November 8. 2016, giving Californians the right to possess and consume up to one ounce of cannabis in “Hollyweed” and elsewhere around the state. The law, however, does not allow for pro-cannabis vandalism of important landmarks, so the prankster who pulled this stunt could be in a bit of trouble if they are identified.
Of course, given the number of famous celebrities who proudly and openly use cannabis, such as Natalie Portman, Bill Maher, Kirsten Dunst, Woody Harrelson, and Matthew McConaughey, there may be a decent argument for keeping the Hollywood sign as “Hollyweed,” at least for a little while.
[Featured Image by Victoria Callow/Twitter]