Changing the letters of the Hollywood sign is an old tradition, and vandals struck again over New Year’s Eve to change the sign to “Hollyweed.”
Perhaps celebrating the first year in which marijuana will be completely legal in California, the stunt wasn’t the first time the sign has read that way. On New Year’s Day, 1976, the day marijuana was decriminalized in the state, Hollywood resident Daniel N. Finegood was the first to have the idea that the sign could also celebrate pot.
Sgt. Robert Payan of the Los Angeles Police Department Security Services said that there is security footage of the incident, but a suspect has not yet been identified. Though the division has officers stationed above the sign, the pranksters were not seen by the officers, he said. The incident is being investigated as misdemeanor trespassing.
As of 10:30 a.m., crews were removing the two tarps that changed “wood” to “weed” and restoring the sign to its normal state. When the sign was first erected back in 1923, it read “Hollywoodland,” advertising a real estate development in the area.
Ever-increasing security has made it extremely difficult to access the sign. In recent years it has read “Save the Peak” and “Go UCLA,” after earlier decades saw variations such as “Ollywood” for Oliver North and the Iran Contra hearings and “Holywood,” an approved alteration for the Pope’s visit in 1987.
Though marijuana was legalized in the state on the November ballot, residents will have to wait until shops are licensed after Jan. 1, 2018 to be able to walk in and buy weed without a medical card. In the meantime, Californians are free to use, possess and share cannabis.