Photo by C.J.Hirschfield, used by permission
A stolen duck. Three new chickens. A gorgeous new website. Some very Fairyland-ish tattoos.
Yes, it was quite a week.
First, the theft. About six weeks ago we noticed that our Ugly Duckling statue, which had been perched on a column in our Aesop’s Playhouse Theatre next to the Beautiful Swan, was missing. All that remains in is the rod that had held it up. It couldn’t have been easy to remove: The perp would have had to climb up and onto a precarious ledge, or used a tall ladder.
We were so depressed. Why would someone do this? And did they know how much it would cost to replace this original, custom piece of art? (Answer: a lot.)
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Hartlaub spoke for many of us when he wrote in his blog last week (quoting Omar from the HBO series “The Wire”): “A man got to have a code. And you don’t commit crimes at Children’s Fairyland.” Calling the theft “a uniquely heinous act,” he went on to imagine the only things worse for your karma than stealing the Ugly Duckling from Fairyland. “Digging up Mr. Rogers’ corpse and carrying it around to exotic dancing clubs ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ style” was one of those things. Another was “Stealing a real duckling from Children’s Fairyland.”
Hartlaub ordered the thief to return our statue immediately. And he ended with this threat: “If Ugly Duckling isn’t returned, I’m fully prepared to cover the inevitable stolen duck court proceeding, on my own time, like it’s the O.J. Simpson trial. No doubt there are three or four retired Oakland Police Department homicide inspectors who have fond childhood Fairyland memories, who are taking this case for free right now. That’s the Fairyland way. (They pull a knife, we pull a bubble sword … ).”
I’ll keep you posted on this.
In much happier news, we received the three chickens as a gift from the incredible Allison Lindquist, whose day job is running the Oakland East Bay SPCA. In her spare time, Allison lovingly raises heirloom chickens in her yard. For decades we lacked a little red hen in our Little Red Hen set. We’ve completely rebuilt the set and now - to the delight of tons of kids -it’s inhabited by three of the sweetest girls: Woodstock, Pollyanna and Violet. On their very first day at Fairyland: an egg!
Another new delivery: our beautifully redesigned website. Not only is it easier to navigate, but it has tons of photos featuring all the features of our park. We can now update all of the information ourselves, instead of relying on others. Our extremely talented friends at Ogilvy in San Francisco helped us create a site that reflects the joy and whimsy of our little urban oasis. Check it out at fairyland.org and let us know what you think!
Last, but certainly not least, about those tattoos.
At our recent Gala fundraiser - a costume party - we kept hearing about a young lady in the crowd who was creating quite a stir.
“Did you see her? Just follow the Lorax and she’s just to the right of Pippi Longstocking.” And there she was, Ms. Sydney Caitlin Viess-Rust, sporting two matching tattoos … of Fairyland’s iconic Magic Keys.
Now, we’re aware that the image is popular - Oaklandish’s Magic Key T-shirt is a top seller - but we’d never seen it as a work of body art before.
I got a chance to talk with Sydney, who told me she’d been inked only two weeks earlier.
“I wanted something that was happy and close to my heart,” she said. Sydney, who has spent just two weeks of her life outside of Oakland, is full of pride for her city. She says she’s received the most positive responses to the tattoos from locals. “Fairyland is childhood,” she told me. Agreed!
All in all, a very lively and enlightening two days.
By the way, in the unlikely event that someone reading this column stole our Ugly Duckling, or knows the person who did, I’d like to echo what Peter Hartlaub wrote: “Return the duck. It’s your only way out of this.”