Bah, humbug! Mask bandits rip through Coupeville
— Created December 9, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
It seems the Grinch has come early in Coupeville, stealing a little holiday cheer right off the faces of some of the town’s most popular seasonal visitors.
Every year a “mystery” group of volunteers places about 65 cheerful snowmen around the community, adding a festive flair to holiday events. This year – in a humorous move meant to go with the theme of 2020 – these secret snowmen caretakers added masks to the snowmen.
That move apparently didn’t sit well with some, according to Coupeville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynda Eccles, who said someone has ripped the masks off several of the snowmen’s faces.
“The masks – some were fabric – were glued on a board and stapled on [the snowmen],” she explained. “They ripped them off, leaving the staples. We found eight around town Wednesday; I don’t know if there were more since then.
“My reaction? I was angry on so many levels,” Eccles continued. “I don’t appreciate vandalism in any form, but snowmen? Really! It is shameful, considering the work that goes into them, cutting them out, the hours of work by the artists.”
Eccles and chamber board member, Matt Iverson, said there was no political motivation behind adding the masks to the snowmen, it is just a sign of the times.
“The masks were put on by the artists as a touch of humor, nothing more,” Eccles said. “They still make you smile because they are a part of what we are all going through right now. We tell everyone who comes into town they have to wear a mask, why not the snowmen?”
“The snowmen didn’t complain when the masks were being stapled on,” joked Iverson. “We were just trying to protect them. Have you seen the price of plywood? We didn’t want them to get ‘Plywood-19.’”
All jests aside, this year an additional 35 snowmen were added to the regular population, in part because they were to be used as substitutes in photos for Red Ticket Giveaway shoppers who are unable to gather in person this year – but who would all be required to wear masks if they were.
“This year the mystery artists made more and added masks so we could spread a few more around the historic district,” Eccles said. “Normally new snowmen aren’t added; it was only because Matt Iverson and Gwen Samuelson from Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association thought it would be a great idea to show them as the crowd for Red Ticket and for us to use for Home for the Holidays pictures.”
According to Eccles, she had received one email and one phone call complaining about the masks on the snowmen by the end of last week but said she and business owners in the historic town are upset and disappointed someone would choose to de-mask the festive holiday mascots in such rude fashion.
“The snowmen are a wonderful addition to the town and they make everyone smile,” she said. “More so this year when we need it more than ever. I always look forward to driving into town and seeing them. It’s magical.”
The vandalism also surprised Eccles because this isn’t the first time the town has included masks in its 2020 events.
“We put a masked pumpkin on our Haunting of Coupeville T-shirt this year and people loved it,” she said.
For now, the community must continue to put a brave, masked face on and move forward with as much normalcy as possible.
“The chamber has some fun activities we are about to launch,” Eccles said. “One involves the snowmen, one involves taking selfies of your purchases and another is a business decorating challenge. They all have opportunities to win great prizes.”
The vandalism incident has been reported to local authorities.
“The removal of masks from snowmen could potentially be charged as Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree or Theft 3rd Degree, which is a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $5,000 and one year in jail,” said Coupeville Marshal Shawn Warwick. “It would most likely be handled with communication as to why the person felt it necessary to remove the masks and to emphasize the importance of not removing what does not belong to you, even if you disagree with it.”
Eccles said she hopes the incident wasn’t politically motivated.
“I hope it was [just] mean spirited; I would hate to think it was politically motivated in our great community,” she said. “This is a stressful time for all of us and we are doing our best to bring some joy to the holiday season. Vandalizing snowmen who make our community smile is not the answer for your anger.” To find out more about upcoming activities in Coupeville, visit coupevillechamber.com.