ELMHURST – A banner advertising the annual Turkey Testicle Festival was reportedly stolen this week from outside the Elmhurst American Legion, and Legion Commander Bob Daniels doesn't think it was a prank.
"It wasn't kids," said Daniels. "I guarantee you that."
Daniels doesn't believe kids stole the brand new $600 banner, which disappeared between 9 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday.
He remembers a couple of people complaining last year because the legion hung the banner on the underpass over Robert T. Palmer Drive, where many fundraiser and event banners are hung. Daniels said the complaints revolved around the word "testicle," but doesn't think the banner was any more offensive than those raising funds for breast cancer.
"We provide a lot of scholarships in town for students," Daniels said about the legion's charity work beyond providing support and services for veterans and active duty personnel in the U.S. armed forces.
Daniels got the idea for a Turkey Testicle Festival fundraiser four years ago as a way to raise money for the legion's programs and scholarships.
"I'd seen one out in Huntley that was a huge success," Daniels said.
He figured Elmhurst was far enough away that the legion wouldn't be competing for guests. For the past three years, the legion has had between 200 and 300 people attend the festival each year, he said.
The legion, located at 310 W. Butterfield Road, displayed the new 24-foot-by-3-foot banner near the street next to an inflatable turkey, which was not stolen. The alleged thief or thieves also cut the bungee cords securing the banner instead of unhooking them, a sign to Daniels they had planned the heist and brought tools.
"We did have a man call this morning and offer to pay for a new one," Daniels said.
The offer was appreciated, but the legion has decided to reuse an old banner, much smaller than the stolen one at 8 feet long, and secured it to the building.
"What type of person steals from a charitable organization?" Daniels asked.