LITTLE HAVANA (CBS4)- A giant rooster sculpture stolen from the streets of Little Havana, and then returned with a plain vanilla paint job had his true colors restored for all to see Saturday.
Artist Joaquin Lopez worked overnight in front of his El Pub restaurant to restore the colors the rooster had when it was placed on the streets of Little Havana as part of a community art project.
Lopez stood in for his father, Tony, who was one of the artists who sculpted and painted the roosters for the project. Tony Lopez died last month.
The rooster was stolen early Friday morning from the outside of the El Pub restaurant. On Wednesday night, it was returned to the office of Pablo Canton, the Administrator of the Neighborhood Enhancement Team at 1275 N.W. 1st St.
Canton had originally painted the popular rooster with U.S. and American flags. He believes the culprits had heard about him through an earlier report in our news partner, The Miami Herald.
“I am very happy to have it back,” said Canton. “The culprits did the right thing. They returned it properly. They could have put it in the Everglades. I have no hard feelings. It was a prank.”
Canton said he did not know where the two young men were from and did not ask for their names. he hopes that charges will not be filed.
Police say there is still an “open investigation” and no decision has been made on charges.
“They were very remorseful,” said Canton. “They said they would never do it again. They said they would pay for damages and the costs and even paint it and said they would perform community hours.”
Canton says he was struck by their sincerity.
Canton said he would be at the restaurant on Saturday morning and would repaint the rooster with the U.S. and Cuban flags.
He said roosters are admired in Little Havana.
Inside the restaurant, customers were glad to see the rooster returned.
“It’s a classic fraternity prank,” said customer and Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, a former Mayor of Miami. “I’m glad that it was recovered. That were pranks that I saw that were much worse during my undergraduate years at Villanova University.”
His nephew, Andrew Suarez, who is an F.I.U. graduate, said, “I feel if they brought it back and there was not much damage, then that’s ok. But I would tell themj: don’t do it again. Don’t do it again.”
Another customer, Alex Montaner, was not pleased. “I think some people have no respect for art,” he said.