Giles Taylor wants you to know he appreciates all the support.
When the county tried to shoot down the floating pumpkin atop Taylor's Hokus Pokus costume shop in West Ashley, hundreds of people called or wrote in to offer kind words and sympathy. It meant a lot to him.
"You don't know how many friends you have out there until something like this happens," Taylor says. "It's very nice and I wish I could thank them all."
So there you go. It was an impressive show of affection for one of the most recognizable landmarks on S.C. Highway 61. After all, the pirate girl with the morally casual attitude -- which adorns the store's permanent sign -- is the highlight of many commutes. The store also offers an array of other great costumes: morally casual nurse, morally casual sailor, morally casual barmaid and even morally casually astronaut.
But that's beside the point.
It was nice to see the community stand up for Taylor. A few even offered to sign a petition to save the jack-o'-lantern, and Teddie Pryor and Joe Qualey from County Council stepped in on his behalf.
Qualey said the county doesn't need to be "the Grinch that stole Halloween," and that's exactly the right attitude. The county ought to have better things to do. And for years it has.
But then some other Grinch had to complain.
Stay classy, West Ashley
West Ashley is a traditional kind of place.
Some of the things that locals like -- for instance, the huge American flag flying over Rick Hendrick's -- would cause epidemic heart failure on Hilton Head, and maybe even in Mount Pleasant. But this is the kind of place that looks forward to the annual pumpkin sale at John Wesley United Methodist Church, that sets its calendar by the costumes worn by a fiberglass cow.
So an 8-foot, floating jack-o'-lantern is no big thing.
Taylor's pumpkin has hovered over West Ashley every fall for years. Hokus Pokus has been at its current location about eight years, and before that he was on Savannah Highway in Avondale, where the pumpkin used to fly.
It's becoming a West Ashley landmark, part of our identity, sort of like the Coburg Cow.
In all that time, no one ever complained. Which begs the question: Why now?
Like a big orange balloon is going to tip the scales and somehow make St. Andrews Boulevard less classy.
Halloween strikes back
The county offered Taylor a compromise on Tuesday. He could get a temporary display permit for $50, or they could fine him $500 per day, per violation -- and there were several, according to the sign ordinance.
At first, Taylor refused to play ball. He's been doing this for years and never needed a permit.
He's right, it's not fair -- but life's not fair. Don't hold it against the county. There are laws on the books. The code-enforcement folks have ignored the pumpkin, or let it slide, for years. Which they should, it's no big deal.
When someone whines, though, they have to act. And it's not an unreasonable permit fee. Maybe the increase in business from all this attention will offset the price of the permit.
And just maybe all this trouble will inspire Taylor to really scare his neighbors next year with a much larger Halloween display.
West Ashley would probably love for the Great Pumpkin to drop by.