Complaints of an encroaching “culture of celebrity” accompanied this morning’s announcement that Millicent Hayberry will serve as head judge of the 2014 Toe-Hair Contest.
Many who attended the press event at the Ancient, Open-Air Theatre began to boo when they heard Hayberry’s name. They were soon joined by a group carrying hastily-made signs that bore unflattering messages scrawled in mud. Some of the signs said, simply, “No!” while others took aim at Hayberry, herself. One protester was heard shouting as he waved a sign that said “It’s a gig!” referring to Hayberry’s profession of acting.
“I was disappointed and, frankly, quite shocked,” said Aintza Kanariar as she left the event. Kanariar, who made the announcement, is Director of Public Relations for the Department of Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations, the body that chooses the contest judges.
“Millicent Hayberry is much beloved in The Park and we thought that adding her to the judging roster would be hailed as a good decision. We never anticipated any objection.”
Hayberry, who is best known for her critically acclaimed performance in Imogen Aardeekhoorn’s one-Chipmunk drama, Mixed Nuts, is one of the most recognizable of The Park’s stage and screen artists. She is also known as a loyal Park citizen and she has participated in every major event here since she was young.
Despite the violent nature of the objections, little of the criticism of the department’s choice was actually aimed at Hayberry; rather it was related to what many perceive as her inexperience in the matter. One protester summed it up:
“The Toe-Hair Contest is a very important competition. It has a history and a focus and it should be treated with respect. I don’t mean to demean the acting profession or her species, but in all honesty, what does she, as a Chipmunk, know about toe hairs?”
The Toe-Hair Contest, which is in its 19th year, is set to commence at 10:00 a.m. Park time on May 1.