Hooray for Hollyweed? That's what the iconic sign overlooking Hollywood was changed to read in Los Angeles overnight on New Year's. Pranksters changed the O's to E's by laying canvases over them. The police haven't caught anyone, but the security footage showed a "lone individual" climbing the peak the letters are on at about midnight, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Sgt. Guy Juneau of the LAPD’s Security Services squad told The Times that it was likely a prankster or "thrill seeker." CNBC reported that the incident is being investigated as an act of trespassing. The person — after climbing Mount Lee — climbed up the signs using built-in ladders with the tarps. The individual added white tarps in the center of the letters and a black ones to the sides, creating the appearance of lowercase E's.
The changes were welcome to many on Twitter, some posting pictures as they arrived home from a night out celebrating the New Year. Others went for hikes in the nearby Griffith Park and captured the view then. No matter how they came across it, the reviews were positive. Capturing the mood of many journalist Muna Mire wrote, "2017 is off to a solid start I guess."
"Weed" is a reference to marijuana of course, and California legalized recreational use at the ballot in November. The initiative is being rolled out in parts; stores will not be phased in until 2018. But still, it could be that the sign change is a celebration of the new legal status.
That's what happened the last time the sign was changed to read "Hollyweed." The first time was in 1976, according to History.com, and was also related to marijuana legislation. A state law had decriminalized the possession of small amounts. A Cal State Northridge student changed the letters with friends, reportedly for an art project.
It has also been changed for other political reasons. During the Iran-Contra scandal, it was changed to read "Ollywood" to protest Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North. Then it read "Oil War” during the Persian Gulf War in 1990.
Back when it was first done, there was no security to keep people out. But, after repeated letter changes and vandalism, the fence and closed circuit cameras were added. There's even a razor wire and in theory an LA official watching the video feed 24 hours a day. They must have had the night off for New Year's though.
So enjoy the "Hollyweed" sign while it lasts. You can bet it won't be long.