Published November 15, 2011
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The Sugar Plum Fairy was fired for cursing, but a growing number of fans are hoping she'll get her job back.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Mike Swart, the same man who started a Facebook page to save the Sugar Plum Fairy's job, is organizing a food drive on her behalf.
"They can bring a bag of sugar, a pack of cookies, some candy -- things the Sugar Plum Fairy might endorse -- or canned goods," said Swart, of St. Charles. "I think we should harness the passion and the excitement everybody has here and do something good with it."
Laura Coppinger, 29, of St. Louis, is an actress who has portrayed the Sugar Plum Fairy for the past six years on historic Main Street in St. Charles during the annual Christmas Traditions festival. She was recently fired for cursing -- not on the job, but when she went to take a drug test required of all city employees.
Coppinger accidentally flushed the toilet during the drug test, which is prohibited. When told she would have to wait at the drug testing facility until she could provide another urine sample, she said she swore out of frustration because the delay meant she would miss a job interview.
A short time later, she was told to go home.
The city's human resources department said she violated the code of conduct for a Christmas Traditions character by uttering "naughty words."
Coppinger said she has gotten an outpouring of support since she made her story public on Saturday.
"It's very exciting to know that the Sugar Plum Fairy has inspired so many people and has made people's Christmases and that people are standing up for her and for me as the actress playing her," she said.
A St. Charles spokeswoman has declined comment, citing the issue as a personnel matter.
Several Main Street merchants are upset by the firing.
"I'm just really disappointed that common sense can't win out," said Chris Stergos, the owner of Patches Quilt & Button Shoppe.
"We rely on the reputation of what we do down here, and this really puts us in such a negative light."
Stergos said some have suggested that the merchants hire Coppinger as a private contractor to work the monthlong festival.
"I'd be all for it," she said. "The Sugar Plum Fairy always has been one of the biggest attractions."