Residents of Hamptons villages and hamlets have been scandalized by the article “the” suddenly appearing on welcome signs throughout the area. The strange phenomenon seems to have started in hamlets near East Hampton, but has been spreading to the west.
In every case, a “the” has been inserted between “Welcome to” and the name of the village or hamlet in question—for example, instead of reading “Welcome to North Sea,” the signs now read “Welcome to the North Sea.”
“It’s outrageous,” said one irate resident of that bayside hamlet. “What if somebody gets confused and thinks they are actually in Denmark all of a sudden? They might fly into a panic and have an accident!”
Further west, residents are also seething about the changes.
“Welcome to the Quogue?” complained one unhappy resident of that tony south-of-the-highway location. “It sounds like some kind of nasty disease. ‘You look terrible. What’s wrong—have you come down with the Quogue?’ Or ‘Better not get near that guy—he’s got the Quogue.’ Think about what something like that does to our property values.”
Police have been mystified by the changes to the signs, which have seemingly been made by a professional sign maker.
“This doesn’t look like vandalism,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch said. “Whoever’s doing this is making a serious effort to do a professional job, and we haven’t yet been able to catch him or her at it.”
Hirsch mentioned that the police have installed video cameras at several locations in the hopes of apprehending the culprit. Meanwhile, a controversy has developed over who should be responsible for correcting the signs that have been altered, so the mysterious the’s will remain on the signs for the foreseeable future.