For nearly four decades, Mark Gubin has been playing an epic prank on people flying into his hometown. As aircrafts descend into Milwaukee’s Mitchell International airport, passengers are greeted with a warm, welcoming sign: ‘Welcome to Cleveland’!
Gubin says that the sign – painted on the roof of his apartment in six-foot letters – has always succeeded at giving flyers a good scare. “There’s no real purpose for having this here except madness,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2005. “Which I tend to be pretty good at.”
The retired photographer revealed that he first got the idea for the sign from his assistant, when he was having lunch with her up on his roof in 1978. She had noticed all the low-flying planes in the area, and told him it would be nice to make a sign to welcome people to Milwaukee. But then Gubin came up with an even better idea – a sign welcoming them to the wrong city.
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Michael Sears
When he first painted the sign, it became instantly famous, making headlines across the nation. Gubin was featured on several news channels, and even made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
In order to avoid confusion, an announcement about the sign was made during a regular flight from Denver to Cleveland with a stop over at Milwaukee. On every flight, attendants reassured passengers that they have not missed their stop. But the prankster has never received any complaints from the airport or any of the airlines that have flown over the sign.
Photo: Google Maps
Then-City Council President Ben E. Johnson did write to Gubin, informing him that the sign was causing ‘outrage and panic’ among passengers. But he added that the city would allow the sign to remain, and not take any action against Gubin. “I was in Cleveland not too long ago and I agree with Mr. Gubin that anybody who wants Cleveland is welcome to it,” Johnson wrote.
Cleveland did want to know if Gubin was making fun of them through the sign, which was a favorite sport during the time. His answer was yes, a little. So someone in Cleveland actually invited him to paint a sign there welcoming passengers to Milwaukee, but he was too busy to make time for it. But he does continue to touch up the letters on his own roof, with whatever paint he has available.
“It was all tongue-in-cheek, just for fun,” he said. “Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.”
Gubin’s amazing sense of humor reflects in his work as well – the eccentric artist has carved the most amazing wooden figures, flags, whirligigs, and a dresser made entirely out of driftwood.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel