A prankster climbed up a mountain in Los Angeles overnight to welcome the New Year Sunday by altering the world-famous Hollywood sign to read "Hollyweed," police say.
Los Angelenos recovering from New Year's Eve celebrations might have been blurry-eyed as the sun came up on Mount Lee but they couldn't have missed noticing there was something wrong with the familiar 350-feet-long sign.
According to Sgt. Guy Juneau, the watch commander for the Los Angeles Police Department's Security Services division (which handles security for public buildings and facilities), a "lone gentleman" made his way up the mountain, clambered over the sign and placed two tarps covering the two Os.
"It now reads 'WEED,' Juneau told USA TODAY. "He escaped but (the stunt) was captured on security video footage."
2017. It's already better. We did it. "Pranksters change the Hollywood sign to read 'HOLLYWEED'" https://t.co/Jv9cUbJBhF— Anthony Carboni (@acarboni) January 1, 2017
Police are investigating and if the man is arrested, he will be prosecuted for misdemeanor trespassing, Juneau said.
But it isn't the first time the sign with its 45-foot-tall letters has been vandalized; Juneau says there's an incident at least once a year.
"It's thrill-seekers, looking for media attention," he said. "It’s L.A., part of our L.A.-crazy," he added, chuckling. But seriously, he said, "We can't have the sign saying that."
Police are pressing to restore the sign quickly but finding work crews on a holiday is proving difficult, he said.
This is not the first time the Hollywood Sign became the Hollyweed Sign. -- Happened in Dec. 1983 (Her-Ex) pic.twitter.com/dVxXyHt1bo— Shelby Grad (@shelbygrad) January 1, 2017
Besides hosting the sign, the mountain also is host to the communications towers used by police and fire departments, he said, which is why the police have an officer assigned to keep watch up there.
And by the way, he said, it's "very dangerous" to climb up this mountain, located in the Hollywood Hills section of the Santa Monica Mountains. The sign was put up in 1923 as an advertisement for a local real-estate development.
"He took a risk," Juneau said of the tarp-wielding climber. "He could have been killed."
If the police were unamused (or trying to be), Los Angelenos on Twitter were laughing in their New Year lattes.
As someone named Caesar tweeted, it might be a sign of a coming good year.
"Somebody changed the Hollywood sign to Hollyweed and if that doesn't mean that 2017 will be a good year then idk what does," he posted.
Somebody changed the Hollywood sign to Hollyweed and if that doesn't mean that 2017 will be a good year then idk what does— Caesar (@Caesar_Martinez) January 1, 2017