2016 was not the best of years for a lot of people, who were eagerly awaiting the ringing in of the year 2017 this weekend. For those who live in Hollywood, California, the year started on a rather humorous note, thanks to a lone prankster. At around 3 AM PT on New Year's Day, someone turned the iconic Hollywood sign into "Hollyweed," which many Los Angelenos woke up to before it was changed back to Hollylwood later that day.
The Los Angeles Times reports that security footage from Mount Lee showed a "lone individual" scaling the mountain in "black, tactical-style gear." He scaled the sign's ladders, carrying four tarpaulins, which he used to change the two O's in Hollywood to lowercase E's. Sgt. Guy Juneau of the Los Angeles Police Department's Security Services division said that this could have been either a New Year's prank, or the work of a "thrill-seeker."
One of the tarpaulins featured a peace sign, while another featured a heart. Since there was no actual damage to the Hollywood sign, the Los Angeles police department are investigating the matter as a misdemeanor trespassing, although the authorities have no suspects at this time. The prank is believed to most likely reflect the passing of legalized recreational marijuana use in the recent election, but this is not the first time the Hollywood sign was changed to "Hollyweed."
Exactly 41 years earlier, Cal State Northridge student Daniel Finegold changed the Hollywood sign to read Hollyweed, after the state of California passed relaxed marijuana restrictions. The student scaled Mount Lee with $50 worth of curtains, as part of an art class assignment that dealt with scale. He earned an A on the project, and he would return to change the sign a few more times as well. He change the sign to read "Holywood" in April 1977 for an Easter church service at the Hollywood Bowl and he returned in 1987 to change the sign to "Ollywood," in reference to the Oliver North scandal. In 1991, he altered the sign to read "Oil War," in protest of the Iraq war, but authorities quickly restored the sign before most could see the alterations.
Other unauthorized alterations of the Hollywood sign over the years included a number of students changing the sign to read Cal-Tech in 1987, another "Holywood" alteration in 1987 during Pope John Paul II's visit to Los Angeles and a 1992 alteration that read "Perotwood," in support of Ross Perot during his run for U.S. President. In 1993, a group of UCLA students changed the sign to "Go UCLA" before the school's annual football game with crosstown rival USC and most recently, the entire sign was covered in 2010 with another sign that read "Save the Peak," to stop real estate development around the sign.