What was intended as a friendly prank by a Summerland Legion member at the Peachland Legion ended up a much more serious matter.
Rex Putney, a 24-year-old bartender at the Summerland Legion, was at the Peachland Legion for drinks recently when he noticed a bell on display in the Peachland building.
Putney thought it would be a good prank to take the bell and leave a note, inviting Peachland Legion members to the Summerland Legion to recover the bell.
He took the bell, left a note at the table and also posted a note on the Peachland Legion’s Facebook page.
At the time, he thought it would result in a good-natured rivalry between the two branches.
However, at 5 p.m. that afternoon, the tone changed.
A Peachland Legion executive member called the Summerland Legion, demanding the bell be returned immediately. Putney drove back to Peachland, returned the bell and apologized to the Peachland Legion president.
John Dorn, a member of the Summerland Legion executive, said returning the bell did not go well for Putney.
“They frog-marched him out of the legion and put the boots to him.”
Putney added that the Peachland Legion president told him he was now banned for life from the branch.
“It was a huge failure. I made the Naughty List,” Putney said, reflecting on the incident. “If I had known this was going to come out of it, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
Then, when he left the Peachland Legion building, he said he was assaulted by a large man in a Santa suit.
“This was such a huge overreaction,” Putney said. “It was quite upsetting.”
Dorn is puzzled by the response from the Peachland Legion.
“For whatever reason, the Peachland Legion members got upset with it, and it escalated from there,” he said. “Why an innocent prank would escalate to that level, I have no idea.”
However, Barry Hewer, manager of the Peachland Legion, said the incident was not a prank.
He said there was no note left when the bell was taken, and as a result, the Legion staff treated the incident as a theft.
The bell, 15 centimetres wide at the base, is displayed from a 1.75-metre stand in the building.
“The bell was donated to us by the family of a deceased member,” he said. It had been on display at the branch for at least four years.
Staff at the Peachland Legion looked at security video to determine who had taken the bell.
“He [Putney] tried to pass the whole thing off as a prank,” Hewer said. “If we had been notified ahead of time, it would have been totally different.”
The bell is now back in its place at the Peachland Legion and the two branches are trying to put the incident behind them.
“It’s all settled now,” Dorn said.