In what feels like an extremely fitting and definitely hilarious start to 2017, a presumably pro-marijuana and pro-pun prankster last night somehow managed to sneak onto the mountaintop grounds of Los Angeles’ iconic Hollywood sign and alter it to read “Hollyweed”.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 1, 2017
Fortunately for Angelenos and for the preservation of historical landmarks, the prank didn’t actually damage the sign. The New Year’s Eve vandal – or, if you prefer, hero (just kidding) – covered the sign’s two letters “O” with tarps that made them look like lower case “E”s. The LAPD has confirmed to other media outlets that the incident was captured by local surveillance cameras and is being investigated as misdemeanor trespassing. Though to be honest it probably should have been classified as a high crime. (Sorry.)
Erected in 1923 and originally reading “Hollywoodland”, the Hollywood sign advertised a segregated housing project and was intended to stand on the site for 18 months. It quickly became a signature landmark of the city itself, despite poor upkeep and subsequent heavy deterioration. Originally consisting of 30-foot letters, it was restored and repaired over the years, eventually being replaced in 1978 by the current version, consisting of sturdier, 45-foot tall letters a combined 350 feet long.
California voters approved the full state-level legalization of marijuana in November, a fact presumably celebrated by the vandal. But it’s worth noting this isn’t the first time the sign has been altered to celebrate the funky green: the first time happened in January, 1976 after a marijuana decriminalization law was passed.
For the curious, other notable alterations to the sign include:
“HOLYWOOD” – for an Easter sunrise service visible from the Hollywood Bowl in April 1977
“GO NAVY” – done with permission by a group of Midshipmen for the Army-Navy football game’s first (and only) West Coast edition in December 1983.
“RAFFEYSOD” – unauthorized alteration in 1985 by an obscure badn called the Raffeys.
“OLLYWOOD” – Done by presumably pro-Oliver North vandals in 1987 during the Iran-Contra hearings.
“OIL WAR” – Done in 1991 by people opposed to the first Gulf War. Later that same year a yellow ribbon was tied around the sign after the war ended.