Marsupial mania is showing no signs of slowing down in Clintonville.
In the wake of city workers removing the whimsical kangaroo-crossing sign from the right of way in the 100 block of Clinton Heights Avenue on March 12, stories about the incident have appeared in national news media, and the neighborhood’s fervor for the species native to Australia only has increased.
• Local artist and graphic designer Jeremy Felder, owner of EccoLyfe Designs on Indianola Avenue, has produced refrigerator magnets and stickers featuring the silhouette of a hopping kangaroo and the words, “Never forget.” The phrase, Felder said, was suggested by his girlfriend, Julie Huff.
• Scott Hammond, who launched a GoFundMe campaign immediately after the sign came down to pay for a replacement, more recently turned to Change.org to plead with the members of the Clintonville Area Commission to have the kangaroo-crossing sign “officially recognized as the symbol of our community.”
• At Arch City Roasters LLC, owner Steve Cross has begun stamping the image of the sign on bags of coffee with “Made in Clintonville” underneath.
• And Libby Wetherholt, chairwoman of the area commission, is seeking to broker a deal to have the yanked sign reinstalled in the playground of Clinton Elementary School, just up the street from where it had stood for nearly four years.
Jared Laughbaum, the 38-year-old social studies teacher and Clinton Heights Avenue resident who put up the kangaroo-crossing notice in the first place, is vastly amused by all that’s taken place since his little bit of civil disobedience came to such prominent public attention. He installed the sign in place of one regarding a construction project that had been left behind long after the work was completed.
“It’s been amazing to see,” Laughbaum said. “One of the things that it’s kind of woken me up to – the city says Columbus is an art town, but they have some policies that kind of stifle that. What I’ve seen from Clintonville … is that we want creative expression in our neighborhood.”
“I love how everyone is having fun with it and we’re speaking up in a nonviolent way about freedom of expression,” Felder said. “It’s been a revolving door for people wanting roo signs. Part of the kangaroo movement is, in my opinion, restoring the voice of our community.”
Cross of Arch City Roasters said in an email he supports the “movement” because it serves as “an outward display of the mood of Clintonville that makes the neighborhood special.
“There has always been a sense of community in Clintonville,” he said. “Better still, the tone of that sense of community has always been quirky and fun. If you think about it, there aren’t a whole lot of places where any of this – the sign, or public outcry after its removal – could have happened.”
In his Change.org petition, Hammond claims the sign’s removal “caused the residents of Clintonville to band together to voice their outrage and frustration that the city of Columbus would remove something enjoyed by many that was installed years before to correct their mistake in a humorous and good-natured way.
“Both professionally and handmade kangaroo-crossing signs are popping up in yards, storefronts and cars all over the neighborhood to show that we collectively have a say in what is and isn’t allowed to adorn the streets of Clintonville.”
Wetherholt, who somewhat sheepishly admitted she doesn’t recall ever having seen the kangaroo-crossing sign, has been meeting with a group of people stirred up by its removal, including Laughbaum, Felder and Hammond.
“I think that when they saw what might happen at Clinton Elementary and I had talked to the principal who seemed very positive about it, they thought this might be a way to at least keep the momentum going,” Wetherholt said.
“Honestly, the best place would be to put the sign back where it was,” Laughbaum said. “As far as the idea of putting it at Clinton Elementary, I’m kind of excited.”
He added he hopes to meet with Clinton Elementary School Principal Carmen Graff this week to discuss ideas to “create some kind of unveiling that’s memorable to the community and the students.”
Spoiler: He’s hoping it involves a kangaroo from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.