Norman, the mascot for the Penguin Café, was abducted. There is a $500 reward posted for his return. No questions asked.
Norman has been standing guard in front of the Penguin Cafe for as long as I can remember. Visitors to our city have photographed him almost as much as The Greeter, another Laguna icon. Norman’s kidnapping creates a real loss. He is a part of our history.
A customer created Norman for the annual Patriots Day Parade over 20 years ago. At that time, he also created mini-penguins animated by wheels and flapping feet. Norman’s penguin family, pulled along by Laguna kids, proudly flanked him along the parade route.
What happens if Norman isn’t returned? How can we weather another loss of a part of our city’s history?
When I heard about Norman’s plight, I called my brother, Tom Beggins. Tom ranks third in my 11 siblings line-up. He was my best friend when we were kids and was also my hero. He could find anything that was lost and would do anything to help, as long as he was asked nicely.
Anyway, Tom was the first person I called to share this sad news. Why? Like Geppetto, the woodcrafter who created Pinocchio, my brother Tom is Norman’s “father.” When he heard the news, he said, “This is like having one of my children kidnapped.”
It’s sad when a senseless theft takes place. We all hope that the persons who stole Norman have a change of heart and will return him to his rightful owners so that this story has a happy ending. Here’s a secret I want to let you in on. I know, without a doubt, that if Norman is never returned, Tom will use his considerable talent and big heart to create Son of Norman, who will proudly assume the post as mascot of The Penguin Café just as his father did before him.