The Great White Prank

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A much-maligned piece of public art is the victim of an art attack.

    On Saturday morning, residents of the coastal town of Cardiff, just north of San Diego, Calif., woke to find a giant papier-mache shark head swallowing their infamous surfer statue.

    Shark Attacks Surfer Statue

    [DGO] Shark Attacks Surfer Statue
    The statue of a surfer in Cardiff was attacked but not injured.

    The statue, officially called "The Magic Carpet Ride" but referred to as the "Cardiff Kook" by some locals, has been a favorite target of pranks since it was erected in 2007.

    Saturday’s stunt is by far the greatest achievement. It took about two weeks for a group of 25 friends to put together the "Jaws-like" creature made out of newspaper, wood and chicken wire. A group of more than a dozen moved it across a two-lane highway in the early morning hours Saturday without getting caught.

    It took the city more than 48 hours to remove it. All the while, the mastermind behind the prank says he can't stop laughing and smiling.

    Eric, who is "a waiter by day and sculptor by night," says he actually came up with the idea a year ago.

    "I'm glad that people are having a good time with it," said Eric, who didn't want to reveal his last name. "I'm really happy. I've heard people say 'we're taking pictures for our Christmas card.' It’s great."

    Eric said his friends had a great time pulling the stunt. "We were laughing so hard. I couldn't stop laughing once I put it in," said Eric. "We were just in hysterics. Everybody was just in such a good mood. It was so funny."

    Residents stopped by Sunday and signed a “Save Our Shark” mock petition hoping to keep the prank in place.

    Even the mayor admitted, unofficially, the stunt was clever.

    "My personal reaction is I love it," said Encinitas Mayor Dan Dalager. "The city's reaction is that we do not condone or encourage these kinds of things."

    No legal action will be taken against the pranksters.

    The city public works department wasn’t so amused and removed the papier-mache creation Tuesday.

    But in the meantime, it was the talk of the town.

    "I guess when we first saw it, our first comment to one another was 'well, this is good advertising for Cardiff,'" said long time resident Jaqueline Pearson.

    "Its a beautiful, wonderful crazy prank," she said.

    Many people feel the statue, and more specifically, the surfer's pose, is not representative of the local surfing community.

    Over the years, the surfer, known affectionately as the "Cardiff Kook", has been dressed up in evening gowns, bikini tops and skirts, and even a wrestling mask. During Halloween, it was adorned in a giant pumpkin head.

    Eric feels the expression of artwork has brought the community together.

    "I think it's become a great piece because of that. It allows people to express themselves on a public scale.

    Eric says he's been responsible for at least one other prank on the statue. He's not sure yet if he'll try again.

    "Maybe I will, maybe I won't," he said with a sly grin.

    This one will be a tough act to follow.

    Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.