HOLLYWOOD — The Hollywood sign could become the subject of added security in the aftermath of a New Year’s Day prank that made it read Hollyweed, says the agency that maintains it.
“The surveillance system is like a chain,” Chris Baumgart, chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, told the Los Angeles Times. “The chain is only as good as its weakest link, so as we study this — the prankster coming in, how he [or] she slipped through — we will determine this week where the link was that was weak, then we will upgrade there.”
Baumgart said he planned to meet with the Los Angeles Police Department this week to be briefed on the matter and to explore ways to prevent similar acts.
City surveillance cameras locked on the iconic sign captured a man dressed in black as he scaled down the sign and carefully placed tarps on the structure to make it read “Hollyweed” around 3 a.m. Jan. 1, said Sgt. Guy Juneau of the LAPD’s Security Services Division.
The tarp was taken down about 11:15 a.m. and the sign restored to “Hollywood.” The incident was being investigated as misdemeanor tresspassing.
Baumgart noted there are dangers when it comes to making a statement on the sign.
Because the sign is 45 feet high, it’s extremely easy to slip and fall,” he told The Times. “It could’ve been a tragedy for that prankster. And that hillside is extremely treacherous. So you’re protecting the homeowners, you’re protecting the pranksters from themselves by keeping them out of there. The sign is just metal and concrete. The lives are more important.”
Citizens began calling in to report the alteration about 5 a.m. New Year’s Day, he said.
The crook won’t get any points for originality, however. Similar editing to the sign has occurred at least twice, once in 1976 to celebrate a change in state law, and again a decade later as publicity for a now-forgotten movie.
This year’s stunt was the latest play-on-mountainside-words to beset the iconic sign. Suspicion centered on interests celebrating the legalization of marijuana in California, approved by voters last year and scheduled to take full effect in 12 months.