Snooki, viral anti-hate snowman, snowballs into Catonsville community mascot

A month after the holiday season, Snooki, the snowman taken down for its message of “No Hate in 21228,” has not melted.

Snooki has such sticking power that its creators, real estate agents Marybeth Brohawn and Meg Christian, have started joking that they will have to put it on a surfboard for summer.

“It’s just a universal feeling,” said Jim Himel, who ordered bumper magnets and yard signs with Snooki’s likeness. “It transcends seasons.”

The Catonsville July 4 Committee took Snooki down from a fundraiser display after someone complained to the Knights of Columbus, on whose land it was displayed, that “no hate” was a political statement.

The phrase “No Hate in 21228” was used in a summertime Catonsville vigil protesting white supremacy. Brohawn and Christian maintain it was a positive, universal message, not a political one.

After Snooki, then later the rest of the display, was taken down, word of the snowman spread on social media. Catonsville residents began making their own versions of Snooki to put in their yards.

Catonsville residents came together at two events in January to paint or color the Snooki yard signs, available for purchase for a $10 donation to Catonsville Emergency Assistance.

Another event will be held today at 2:30 p.m. at Catonsville High School for anyone over age 12, Brohawn said.

One such event, on Jan. 25, was hosted in Himel’s home.

“We had 50 people at the house, painting or coloring in signs — it was definitely a kumbaya moment,” Himel said. “The only thing that was missing was someone playing the guitar and passing a joint around.”

Christian said of the event: “People kept saying, ‘we don’t talk anymore, we don’t discuss things anymore.’ To me, that’s what Snooki brought out — we need to talk, we have to talk. Especially with someone with a different opinion.”

Hundreds of bumper magnets and dozens of yard signs around Catonsville now bear Snooki’s image or message, Himel said.

In the weeks after news of Snooki swept Catonsville, Himel said he distributed 500 bumper magnets to businesses, including Rooster + Hen and Atwater’s, which he said no longer carries them.

The 500 magnets, he said, sold for $5, raising $2,500 to benefit either Catonsville Emergency Assistance or another charity of each business owner’s choosing.

The yard signs, at $10 a piece, have raised about $500 for Catonsville Emergency Assistance so far. They are available for purchase at Rooster + Hen and at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City, he said.

Himel said he paid out of his own pocket to print the magnets and signs, but declined to say how much he spent, noting that he did not want to be “singled out.”

Susan Szulinski, another real estate agent who works with Christian and Brohawn, said she enjoyed seeing and hearing different interpretations of Snooki — such as an 8-year-old who told Szulinski that it meant “you don’t bully kids in school.”

People used different colors to decorate the snowmen, the real estate agents said, and even had different interpretations of the androgynous character’s gender.

“Maybe that’s the point,” Brohawn said. “You don’t need to decide what it is to listen to what it has to say.”

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