Marquee sign draws fire

As the country prepared to welcome the 44th president of the United States, Monica Marini at Big Bear Convention Center was fielding calls and hate mail.

The marquee at the Convention Center read “THANK YOU PRESIDENT BUSH.” A second line read “GOD HELP US NOW.

The marquee raised eyebrows and caused community members to call Marini and The Grizzly. Marini and her husband, Anthony, own the Convention Center at the corner of Division Drive and Big Bear Boulevard.

The sign was removed on Jan. 20 after Marini said she fielded calls and e-mails she referred to as “hate mail.” Marini said she was shocked at the amount of mail and calls opposed to the sign. She said she also received as many in support of the sign.

Don Jordan of Sugarloaf shared a letter he sent to the Convention Center regarding the sign. Jordan said the marquee was in place on Jan. 19, and he believes in everyone’s right to express his or her opinion. Jordan’s letter stated the marquee was in poor taste because while the Convention Center is privately owned, “it is still Big Bear Lake’s Convention Center, and therefore most observers would assume that this is the official position of the city of Big Bear Lake.”

Jordan went on to state that a quasi-public marquee shouldn’t be a place to express private opinions.

A caller to The Grizzly said she had also fielded calls about the sign from friends and fellow members of American Association of University Women. The caller said the word “now” made it sound like the country is in trouble under Obama’s administration.

Marini said the sign was a way of simply thanking the outgoing president. When asked about the second line, she said it was just asking for prayer. “We’re in two wars,” Marini said.

When asked if the words might imply that the Convention Center owners were intimating the prayers were due to Barack Obama being sworn in as president of the United States, Marini said the sign had nothing to do with that. The words were what they (the owners) felt, Marini said.

Following Sept. 11, Marini said “God Bless America” was placed on the marquee. And every year they put “Merry Christmas” on the sign. Neither generated any negative comments, Marini said.

“I’m amazed how many people have hatred for this man (Bush),” Marini said. As for Obama, “we wish him well,” Marini added.

Jordan, in his letter to the Convention Center, also resigned from Wyatt’s Posse, which is a group associated with the facility. “In expression of my private opinion, I also will no longer attend events at the Convention Center except for the Farmer’s Market, which is only in your parking lot,” Jordan’s letter stated.

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