HOLLEY, NEW YORK, IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE – What began with firefighters in cities around the world labeling their counterparts in Holley, New York, “monsters” has led to the improbable reinvention of a once shamed and bloodstained village.
“Firefighters are supposed to be heroes,” one disgusted Seattle-based fireman told The Daily Maul in an e-mail. “We’re the men and women neighborhood kids look up to. We’re the compassionate civil servants who help get cats out of trees and pull dogs from freezing waterways. We’re the kindhearted folks who rescue animal companions from burning homes. We don’t turn into savages when we’re off duty.”
Controversy has surrounded the Holley Fire Department since its personnel started promoting an annual fundraising event called “Squirrel Slam,” an unconscionable squirrel-slaughtering competition whose prizes included cash and guns.
The Holley Fire Department, which is located in Orleans County, New York, expanded this year’s contest to include murderous 14-year-olds and those even younger.
“Encouraging savagery among younger generations is totally unacceptable,” an area parent named Lou Hobogden said. “And rewarding such barbarism with more killing tools is absolutely insane.”
In addition to cash prizes ranging from $50 to $200, the fire department gave away rifles to the contest’s most successful murderers. Squirrel-slaughter participants paid $10 each for the chance to kill for cash and guns.
Local public-school history teacher Moe Nosrung expressed concern about “cultivating bloodlust among the area’s students.”
“If today they’re murdering squirrels, tomorrow they’ll be killing other species and one another,” Nosrung said. “And they’ll be doing so with weapons we gave them.”
It was local high-school student Kip Tollings who made Holley an all-but unlivable place, and a village in which doing business was all-but impossible, for members of what he calls the “drooling class.”
In protest of this year’s “Squirrel Slam,” Tollings organized a simultaneous event in which animal advocates left acorns and wrote, in red chalk, “SS” (an abbreviation for “squirrel slaughterer”) on the doorsteps of Holley Fire Department personnel and “Squirrel Slam” participants.
“When I was in elementary school,” Tollings said, “a local fireman talked to my class about his job. It was like having a real-life superhero tell us that we could someday be just like him. And I wanted to, for a while – until I got older and thought about the fire department raising blood money to save and improve lives.”
In advance of his protest event, Tollings created a Facebook group called “Acorns for the SS,” whose membership soon included like-minded people from all over the world. An “Acorns for the SS” event page registered hundreds of committed attendees in just a few days, and those who couldn’t make the trip to Holley sent Tollings an estimated three million acorns. Among those who joined Tollings’ Facebook group were thousands of firefighters – some from as far away as New Zealand.
International media attention soon triggered a tipping point, and the otherwise unknown Village of Holley quickly became the epicenter of a global movement called “Occupy the Drooling Class,” which is dedicated – according to its Twitter profile – to creating “a vegan majority whose collective voice rails against those who seek spiritual and financial reward through the exploitation, torture, and murder of other species.”
“Historians, I believe, will someday refer to what’s going on here as the ‘Holley Enlightenment,’” Nosrung said. “The history of Holley will certainly not be kind to the drooling class.”
A spokesperson for the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce told The Daily Maul that “the movement, which is being driven by young people, has changed the culture of Holley. We’ve become the first all-vegan village in the United States. Holley no longer has a drooling class.”
The village’s schools, restaurants, businesses, and even its fire department, have all gone vegan, as have the town’s residents. And while members of the drooling class have relocated to more bloodlust-full communities, Holley’s population is expected to grow exponentially.
“Holley is going to become something of a vegan mecca,” the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said, proudly. “We expect to enjoy a booming economy that will be the envy of towns and cities everywhere.”
Tollings, who was recently elected mayor of Holley and serves as a volunteer firefighter, said he can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Nor can anyone else whose worldview was forever changed as a result of what Nosrung dubbed the “Holley Enlightenment.”
Support and participate in Friends of Animals’ efforts to stop “Squirrel Slam,” and urge local and state officials to do the same. Holley Fire Department personnel can be reached by telephone at (585) 638-6884. Holley’s mayor, John W. Kenney Jr., can be reached by telephone at (585) 638-6367 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce can be reached by telephone at (585) 589-7727. And New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo can be reached by telephone at (518) 474-8390.