More than two months after the city of Columbus removed Clintonville’s “Kangaroo Crossing” sign, the neighborhood will return it to its rightful home. Or, at least, right down the street.
On May 31, Clinton Elementary will officially unveil a permanent location for the reclaimed “Kangaroo” sign on its playground, about a block away from its original spot.
The unveiling promises to be a victory lap for the community activists who rallied to replace the sign, which was taken down by the city on March 12 after WOSU inquired about its origins.
Since then, locals like Scott Hammond and Jeremy Felder launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to buy a new sign, began a campaign to declare the kangaroo the official symbol of Clintonville, and decorated the neighborhood with “Never Forget” markers and bumper stickers. Arch City Roasters, a coffee shop in the area, introduced a “Kangaroo Cold Brew Blend” and the Clintonville Farmer’s Market adopted “Kicks the Kangaroo” as its mascot.
“It’s been really fun to see the community coming together again,” says Jared Laughbaum, the Clinton Heights resident responsible for the original sign.
Laughbaum, a teacher for Columbus City Schools, erected the sign in 2014 to replace a construction notice left over from renovations at the elementary. He kept his involvement a secret, though, and the sign stayed up until this year.
After a WOSU listener asked the Curious Cbus project about the sign, this reporter contacted the city Department of Public Service for information about its permit. As it turned out, the sign had no permit, and the city quickly dispatched workers to remove it.
Laughbaum contacted the city to claim the sign, and has been looking for ways to return it to the neighborhood. This time, he has permission.
Mollie Tooker, PTA president of Clinton Elementary, says that many parents approached her about the school adopting the sign. She immediately jumped on board.
“Although it seems all of Clintonville seemed to embrace this thing, it was really a lot of the Clinton parents because we saw it every day. And now will continue to see every day,” Tooker says. “I asked the principal and she was fine with it. I don’t think she understands what’s going on, but it was pretty much an easy decision.”
Clinton Elementary will unveil the sign at the annual “lunch on the lawn” celebration. Laughbaum says the Columbus Zoo will be on hand, and community members will present a donation from their GoFundMe campaign – with a giant check, of course – to the zoo’s kangaroo exhibit.
“We’re getting a giant check made to donate,” Laughbaum says.
Just as the original sign delighted and inspired passerby, organizers wanted to make sure the sign would remain visible.
“It will be along the fence in the playground facing out toward the street so everybody in the community can still see it when driving by,” Laughbaum says. “It’s an entrance into the playground, so I think it’s a great location. Being at the school, it’ll be there for a long time and it’s still part of the community.”
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