The Herald Bulletin

March 29, 2014

Traveling toilet flushing out funds

Fundraiser used to raise money for a county fire museum

By Traci Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Two years ago, Pam Stires woke up to a front yard packed with pink flamingos.

This week she woke up to a red toilet with shooting yellow flames in her yard.

“Courtesy of a former neighbor,” Stires said with a laugh. “Isn’t that nice they would think of us?”

Well-known for her prankster tendencies, Stires said the garish and extravagantly decorated toilet showed up in her front yard on Thursday.

“My husband came in from getting the paper and said, 'We just got flushed and we have to pay to get rid of it,'” she said. “I am already planning my revenge.”

The toilet is part of an effort by Skip Ockomon to raise money for the Madison County Firefighters Museum, 830 W. Third Street. The museum plans to eventually showcase the history of the county’s firefighters with exhibits from different fire departments in the area.

Ockomon, an Anderson fireman, said he had originally hoped to raise at least $500 for a dumpster rental, but a domino effect from the toilet fundraiser may allow him to raise more money for the museum’s restoration.

For a small fee, people can have the toilet placed in a friend’s yard or they can purchase insurance to make sure the toilet does not suddenly show up in a front yard.

Businesses can also join in on the fun. The first business that was targeted for a flush was Greek’s Pizzeria, 6317 Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., but it was only there for a day or so.

The toilet has already been moved and, if today is your birthday, you might want to check your front yard.

Ockomon said he was going to relocate the toilet in the middle of the night to surprise his next victim on his special day.

“We are taking pictures of it everywhere it goes and posting it on Facebook and then people can share it,” Ockomon said. “We tried to make it really ugly so no one wants it. The idea was to put it in someone’s front yard or in front of their business and they want it out an hour later.”

Painted a vibrant red with hideous plastic flowers and greenery, the toilet seems to be a success as a fundraiser, Ockomon said.

“We have already raised $140 and we just started this week,” he said.

The idea for a traveling toilet came from Erin Campbell, who owns Gmack Graphics, 1113 E. 53rd St. Ockomon contacted Campbell about having T-shirts printed in order to raise money for the museum but Campbell, who does fundraising, suggested something a little more unique.

She told Ockomon that other communities had success using an ugly toilet to raise money for Relay for Life events, but no one had attempted the such a fundraiser here.

“This way people don't have to buy something they don't want and if you can have a little fun and take a break from all the crazy in life that’s a good thing,” she said.

In fact, it was Campbell who paid to have the toilet placed in Stires' front yard.

“I know they would just laugh and pass it on for sure,” Campbell said. “But I also know revenge is near. When you play a practical joke on a practical joker, they are going to get you back at some point — you just have to do it with your eyes wide open.”

Ockomon is already in the process of creating two more toilets to fill the growing demand for the tacky yard ornaments.

“Ultimately, this might take off and do better than he initially thought,” Campbell said. “He has had a pretty good response, and anything is better than zero.”

As for Stires, she said she made a mistake when she forwarded the toilet to its next victim.

“I didn’t get the insurance so it doesn’t happen again,” she said with a laugh. “That’s all right, it’s an awesome idea and for a good cause. I thought it was totally hilarious.”

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

Plumbing fees In an attempt to raise funds for the Madison County Firefighters Museum, gaudily decorated toilets are being placed in unsuspecting residential yards and in front of businesses. Individuals can pay a fee to have the toilet removed from their property or to have a toilet placed on a friend's property. Insurance can also be purchased to prevent the toilet from ever being placed on a person's property. A photo of the toilet on the requested property will also be posted on various social media sites. All proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the museum project. The following is a breakdown of fundraising fees: • $10 to take the toilet away • $20 to give it to someone else • $25 for toilet insurance • $5 to remove any photos posted to social media sites If you are interested in helping to raise funds for the museum, or if you have a friend's property who you would like to see adorned with the toilet, call Skip Ockomon at 425-1936.