Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Locals outraged over dismissal of Christmas festival actor
Historic St. Charles, Missouri, takes Christmas very seriously. Its annual Christmas Traditions festival transforms Main Street into a living diorama of holiday-themed displays and costumed characters, carolers and Clauses. It’s a feel-good, G-rated sort of event. But things off the Christmas Traditions stage got a little PG-13 recently, and it cost the Sugar Plum Fairy her job.
Laura Coppinger, the actress who has played the Sugar Plum Fairy for the past six years, has been fired by the city for using foul language. She was in city offices recently—out of costume and out of range of children—to take a mandatory drug test, according to this report from the Associated Press:
Coppinger accidentally flushed the toilet during the drug test, which is prohibited. When told she would have to wait at the drug testing facility until she could provide another urine sample, she said she swore out of frustration because the delay meant she would miss a job interview.
As a result, she was fired. The city’s human resources department says such "naughty words" constitute a violation of the Christmas Traditions code of conduct, even though Coppinger wasn't performing at the time.
Such an infraction is clearly serious business in Christmastown. The Christmas Traditions website has already removed the Sugar Plum Fairy from its list of characters.
But some local fans are rallying to have the decision reversed. Three separate campaign pages have been created on Facebook: Save the Sugar Plum Fairy, Bring Back the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Save the Sugar Plum Fairy on Main Street. More than a thousand people have added their support to the effort.
As of now, the 18-day festival taking place between Thanksgiving and Christmas is likely to be less one dancing Sugar Plum Fairy.