Los Angeles residents awoke Sunday morning to see that one thing, at least, looked different in the New Year: the Hollywood sign.
Photos shared on social media showed the iconic sign modified to read, "HOLLYWeeD.”
Security footage taken around midnight Saturday showed a “lone individual” climbing up Mount Lee, scaling the sign using the built-in ladders and hanging tarpaulins over the sign’s O’s to change them to E's, said Sgt. Guy Juneau of the LAPD’s Security Services division.
“So the sign now reads ‘Hollyweed,’” Juneau said. It could be a New Year’s prank, he said, or the work of “a thrill seeker.”
The incident will be investigated as misdemeanor trespassing, he said. The police have no suspects.
Some Angelenos joked that the modification could be a reference to Californians voting on Nov. 8 to legalize recreational marijuana. That policy change took effect the day after the election, but 2017 will be the first full year that the law will be in effect.
The sign was similarly modified on Jan. 1, 1976, when an art student from Cal State Northridge hung curtains over the two O's to celebrate a change in California's marijuana policy. It’s been altered other times as well.
Hollywood sign vandalized to read 'Hollyweed'
The Hollywood sign got a little green over New Year's.
A prankster managed to change the iconic sign overlooking Los Angeles early Sunday to read "Hollyweed," said L.A. Police Officer Christopher Garcia, who works in the agency's security service division.
The vandal -- who police think is probably a man -- used tarps to change the O's in the sign to E's, he said.
The vandal was caught on security-camera footage between midnight and 2 a.m. local time, but police can't tell his race or height because it was dark and raining, Garcia said.
The "Hollyweed" sign remained up until around 11 a.m., when authorities took down the tarps used to change the lettering.
Estevan Montemayor, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, whose district includes the Hollywood sign, had earlier promised the iconic sign would be restored to its normal state.
"We don't know who did it but park rangers are going up there very soon to take down the draping that was put on top of the 'O' to alter the sign," Montemayor said Sunday morning.
There are sensors at the sign that trigger an alarm for police, but because the sensors are only in certain areas of the letters, it's possible to avoid them. There's a road accessible to the public by foot and car behind the sign.
"We believe this person came from behind the sign," Garcia said.
Betsy Isroelit with the Hollywood Sign Trust told CNN that the last time the sign was vandalized to read "Hollyweed" was in 1976.
Famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles vandalized to "Hollyweed"
Someone has managed to modify the famed Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed.”
The sign was visibly changed and captured on cameras as of Sunday morning, reports CBS Los Angeles.
The incident did not mark the first time the sign has been targeted in a possible prank or act of vandalism.
Danny Finegood, who passed away in 2007, was made famous by changing the sign to “Hollyweed” on Jan. 1, 1976, in celebration of the state’s then-more relaxed marijuana laws taking effect. (He also once changed the sign to read “Ollywood” in 1987 in protest of Col. Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair, as well as making the sign read “Oil War” in 1990 to protest the first Gulf War.)
California voters recently approved recreational marijuana use in a ballot initiative, joining six other states and the Distrcit of Columbia in allowing the drug’s non-medical use.