A neighbor’s disapproving letter over a Christmas decoration has turned a porch gargoyle into the most unlikely little philanthropist.
The saga started in early December with Union, Ohio, resident Denise Starr’s gargoyle in front of her home’s front door. Starr, a veterinarian in Englewood, received a note informing her the gargoyle statue — lovingly named Frank — is “not appropriate” and “not in keeping with the Christmas spirit.”
“They firmly suggested that I “rectify the situation immediately,” stated the first post on Dec. 12 to Frank’s new Facebook fan page. “Well problem solved! Frank is now festive! I’m pretty sure that this is not what they had in mind and I look forward to the future note stating as much, but 1. Frank is very heavy and he doesn’t get moved and 2. I like him even if he’s not so great at warding off evil Karens.”
“Karen,” a pseudo-name given to protect her neighbor’s identity, continued to leave notes for Starr every day around Christmastime, letting Starr know how much the gargoyle displeased the neighbor.
The gargoyle has been sitting on Starr’s porch for three years. But for whatever reason, Starr said it was Christmas 2020 when the gargoyle really set Karen off.
First, Starr thought she’d poke just a bit of fun by making the gargoyle an “advent calendar” of sorts by adding a new decoration or prop each day, then posting Frank’s new accessories for her own Facebook friends to enjoy.
After one of Starr’s friends asked to share it with their own following, Frank’s story quickly went viral in December. Overnight, Starr was getting around 1,000 messages a day from users about how much humor and joy the simple prank brought to their day.
“People wanted to send me things to add to it, they wanted me to make a GoFundMe or an Amazon Wishlist so I could buy things (for the porch),” Starr said. (But) one, I didn’t really want to give out my address but like, two, it just made me uncomfortable just taking money from people to decorate my porch. … So I thought, you know, ‘If it made you smile and you want to pay it forward, here’s the link for The Dayton Food Bank, please consider making a donation.’”
Starr thought maybe she could get lucky and raise $4,000 or $5,000 for the foodbank — not chump change, she added. However it took Frank, the stone-faced demon, just 20 minutes to raise $15,000 for the Dayton charity.
There was never an intention to keep the decorating gag going after Christmastime, but every time she made a Frank-update post, the donations continued to pour in. So Starr decided to see how far Frank could go.
So far, Frank’s fan page — and his now holiday-themed, rotating props and wardrobes — has raised more than $74,000 for The Dayton Foodbank, $26,000 for the Feeding Texas nonprofit and, most recently, more than $31,000 for the House of Bread in Dayton.
At the time of receiving the first note from her disgruntled neighbor — unlucky for Starr but lucky for the charities — Starr was home for two weeks quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19. With some time to kill, Starr started looking around the house for extra Christmas props to add to Frank, which prompted the neighbor’s second note.
“I thought I’d put his Santa hat on, then I thought I’d put a (miniature Christmas) tree out there,” Starr said. “I got the second note the next day that said, ‘You think you’re funny? I don’t think this is funny,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, yeah I think I’m pretty funny. And you’re about to find out how funny I think I am because I’m stuck at home for two weeks with nothing to do.’”
Starr said one of the best parts of the Frank saga is all the messages she regularly receives from nurses, doctors, healthcare providers and others about how much they enjoy laughing at Frank’s updates with their coworkers. They’ve told Starr Frank has been a stress reliever during the past few months of the pandemic.
As Frank’s story continues to attract attention, Starr has had Amazon packages delivered with more decorations to be added to Frank’s collection, even though she hasn’t put her address out to her following. Teenagers have also been spotted shooting TikTok videos on Starr’s lawn in front of Frank, and the fan page’s following continues to grow — currently amassing 763,806 followers.
The neighbor seemingly went quiet toward the end of January, but “reappeared” last week with the latest note letting Starr know that Frank is still “not funny.”
“I kind of assumed he had an expiration date, which I thought was after Christmas, but apparently not,” Starr said. “So I plan to at least keep him going through this year’s holidays and Christmas and then see where he is. … If I can make that much money for the foodbank and other charities just by doing silly stuff on my porch, I’m hard pressed to say I’m going to stop.”
Follow Frank’s ongoing shenanigans on his fan page at facebook.com/Frank-the-Christmas-Gargoyle.