The short public life of Barry Bling
The folks at Baxter’s Fine Jewelry on Jefferson Boulevard expected their new billboard to attract some attention, but they had no idea how much when they used a mannequin perched on a ladder to illustrate that fine jewelry doesn’t have to be out of reach. But, within half an hour of unveiling the new sign, Warwick Police and Firefighters got emergency calls about a worker dangling from a billboard off Jefferson Boulevard.
Lt. Michael Gilbert said the sign was visible from Route 95 and it soon became apparent that the mannequin had to come down. Gilbert said the billboard company took the mannequin down as soon as they heard from police.
“It was a safety hazard,” he said. “People were calling police and rubbernecking, and that’s not safe.”
The idea of people calling police and fire all day to report a workplace accident didn’t appeal to authorities either.
The owner of Baxter’s, Paul Messerlian, told the Beacon he had no idea how far the mannequin’s name would travel. The story reached a good deal of the East Coast when WGBH’s morning news broadcast mentioned it, and it will probably make the rounds of the Internet for a while before it is forgotten. But Baxter’s will not forget him. They’ve grown fond of him. He won’t be on the billboard, but he will be around.
“We had a Facebook contest to name the mannequin before we put it up and we picked ‘Barry Bling,’” said Messerlian. “We had no idea that it would produce this kind of reaction, and so fast!”
Another associate at the store told the Beacon she was disappointed that it came down so fast, having been working with ‘Barry’ since he arrived.
“I don’t think it was up for a half hour before it was taken down,” said Donna Morris. “I didn’t even get to see it.”
HANGING OUT: Barry Bling the mannequin before he came down from the Baxter’s Fine Jewelry billboard. (Photo courtesy of Baxter’s Fine Jewelry)