LAKE PLACID — A crime occurred recently at the Adirondack Community Church. It was an act of stolen property under the cover of night, the kidnapping of a cheerful toucan sign made out of plywood and painted with bright colors.
Claire Thayer, the church’s secretary, was horrified when she found the toucan was gone Saturday morning and went to work calling around town, notifying the police, local papers and chasing down leads like Ace Ventura, pet detective.
“I was worried because so many people were in town for rugby that weekend,” Thayer said. “My first reaction was that ‘toucan’ was probably going to end up as decoration in a living room somewhere in New Jersey.”
The toucan was part of a sea of rain forest-themed decorations announcing the 13th annual SonQuest Vacation Bible School, a yearly program put on by the church geared toward children preschool through sixth-grade. The program, which is entirly free, seeks donations to support the Jambo Jipya School located at the center of Mtwapa, Kenya.
Thayer said she overreacted when the toucan flew the coop, mostly because she had borrowed the sign from a church in Malone that recently put on a similar program.
“It’s a really neat sign and I just had no idea how I could prossibly replicate it,” Thayer said. “I’m not really the world’s best woodworker or anything.”
But last Monday night, after toucan had been missing for more than 48 hours, a Lake Placid Village police officer knocked on the door of Rebekah B. Sweet, lead pastor of the Adirondack Community Church.
“It was about quarter to 11 at night,” said Birney Kellogg, Sweet’s husband who answered the door. “And there was the toucan, returned to us by one of Lake Placid’s finest.”
Kellogg reported that the police department had found the colorful sign in a garbage can next to the village tennis courts. He said he and his wife were grateful the police department took notice of the problem and helped to correct it.
“Aside from being a nice peice of art, it really is a prized mascot for the vacation bible school,” Kellogg said. “We were hoping, and praying it would be returned and sure enough, it was.”
A week later the Adirondack Community Church was swarming with activity as the vacation bible school began it’s week of fun. At the center of it all was the Toucan, hanging on an alter, disguised as a tree, for all to see.
“When we got the toucan back I brought him inside to a more prominet spot,” Thayer said. “We wouldn’t want to lose him again.”
Church secretary Claire Thayer and youth pastor Art Summers stand with a group of kids from the Vacation Bible School and their cherished mascot.
Photo/Eric Voorhis/Lake Placid News