Feb 13, 2016 10:30 PM
NEWPORT - The town held a week-long celebration for its 100th Winter Carnival and brought back some old traditions with a new twist.
In the past, Newport held a greased pig event during the winter carnival and for their centennial celebration, thought it was a great idea to honor the old tradition.
“It’s a historical event and we wanted to bring it back” said P.J. Lovely, the town's recreation director.
But when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, found out, they wanted an explanation.
“I got a lot of emails...and a lot of backlash from what they didn’t know was going on,” said Steven Smith, a board member for the Winter Carnival. He said he received about 100 emails, but a real pig was never in the original plan for Saturday's "greased pig on the ice" event.
Instead the "pig" was a friend of P.J.'s, Glenn Halleck, who was asked to play the role on ice skates.
"It'll be fun for the kids...I'll be the pig" he said just before the event started.
Smith said he answered all of PETA's questions, but the issue of whether they were using a real pig wasn't discussed.
“They assumed it was a real pig”" he said. "When they were doing their investigation, they never asked what was happening, so since they didn’t ask I didn’t tell them."
Smith was upset and surprised when he received a statement from PETA explaining what the town of Newport and their recreation department plans on doing at the Winter Carnival
“They made up this whole story about taking a pig and shoving it in a barrel and hundreds of screaming kids screaming at it so they made up this whole story without asking us what was going on" he said.
PETA has since released a statement saying in part: He had ample opportunities to share with PETA what he now says was his plan all along, but chose not to. Smith says if they asked the right questions, then they would have gotten the right answers.
I asked Smith why didn't he just come out and say it wasn't a pig but a person and he says “Because again, it’s not my job to do their research."
The Winter Carnival concludes Sunday.
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