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10 July 2007
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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire - Disguised as a gingko tree, James Coldwell, a real estate agent and Greenpeace activist, robbed a branch of the Citizen Bank Saturday morning. His attorney, Rush Limb-Bough said, “He did it to raise money for environmental concerns, victims of widespread disease and to draw attention to the plight of Dutch elms, which, in the United States, have all but disappeared”. He wore leaves of the gingko tree, rather than those of the Dutch elm, because “the tree costume was left over from last Halloween,” he said, when he chose the gingko in honor of his Chinese girlfriend. “The gingko is a Chinese tree,” he explained, adding that he and his former girlfriend have since broken off their relationship.
“In retrospect, I should have bought a Dutch elm costume,” Coldwell told Unnews’ reporter Lotta Lies.
Previous to the bank robbery, Coldwell tried to alert the public to the serious situation that the Dutch elms face by writing a novel, How Green Was My Valley, but, he said, “no one wanted to publish it. People aren’t interested in fictions about talking trees.” Originally, he said, he had planned to carry his nude girlfriend across the bank’s threshold. She would have been “a tree nymph,” he said, “but she ditched me. She wants kids,” he said, “but it’s difficult for her to commit. Her family lacks roots.”
Coldwell added, “Nude women get a lot of attention; just ask PETA. Nobody cares about dumb animals, but put a couple of naked women out there, protesting about wearing fur or clothes--or anything--and the paparazzi are going to pay attention.”
According to authorities, Coldwell escaped from the bank with “an undisclosed amount of money,” but Coldwell says his take amounted to “about $25,000--a mere pittance of what’s needed to eradicate Dutch elm trees and save America’s forests.”
He tried more traditional fund-raising methods, including equipping business offices with money trees, but “unless there’s a naked chick in there somewhere, no one cares.” Desperate to save the vanishing Dutch elms, Coldwell decided to patch up last year’s gingko tree costume and rob his local bank. He hopes the publicity that has resulted from his having committed the crime while wearing the unusual disguise will generate some interest in the tree’s plight and raise some cash.
Others have been unable to resist the temptation to use puns in their comments on the incident. “He’s up a tree,” a journalist reporting the incident in the local newspaper wrote, and the judge who is scheduled to preside over Coldwell’s pending case suggested, in response to Rush Limbaugh’s opinion that Coldwell’s parents, as “tree-huggers,” did not parent him well, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
Advice has poured in from around the world concerning Coldwell’s choice of costume. “Next time,” one letter writer suggested, “he should wear a grizzly bear costume. Nobody messes with grizzlies.” Other recommendations include lawyer and IRS agent costumes. “They’re so good at taking money,” the advisor stated, “that tellers, like the rest of us, would fork over the money, no questions asked.”