One Unexpected Act of Kindness Causes Smiles for Decades

A sweet sign created in 1998 lifts the spirits of these road-weary travelers near Simi Valley, California.

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Posted in , May 10, 2018

Happy traveler

My favorite part of any vacation (besides, of course, the abundance of hazelnut gelato and free maps) is the unexpected places and sights you stumble upon. Like a flock of flying umbrellas in London or a tunnel of light in Stockholm. And, on my most recent trip, a smiley face off the 118 Freeway.  

Smiley Face Hill in California
     Smiley Face Hill near Simi Valley, California

It was spotted on day two of our vacation. We were on the highway, headed for Simi Valley. My dad was at the wheel. Meanwhile, I was fighting a constant battle against sleep in the backseat. Not only was I jet lagged, but I think we were all a little sick of L.A.’s highways and traffic already (no offense, L.A., but your roadways make New York City’s subways feel like Cinderella’s golden carriage).

In the midst of my half-asleep, half-awake state, I heard one of my sisters exclaim, “Look at that!” I opened my eyes, glanced out the window and there it was. Etched onto a hill on the side of the highway. A giant smiley face! It was just the boost a car full of weary New Yorkers needed.

When I got back from vacation, I did some digging. Apparently, the smiley face had a name. Happy Face Hill. According to the Los Angeles Times, it was created in 1998 by local gardener Sonny Klamerus, who “wanted to do a benign, nice thing.”

In 2014, someone anonymously added lights to Sonny’s creation. It turned out to be the work of two young girls, Evelyn and Tabitha Robertson, who were hoping to do something nice for their mother, Allison.

“They wanted to surprise me because they knew how much I love the happy face,” Allison told the Times. Their father, an electrician, helped them carry out the good deed.

I couldn’t believe how many acts of kindness were rolled into this one sweet sign on the 118 Freeway.

Maybe California’s highways aren’t so bad after all?

What about you? When was the last time you stumbled upon wonder on vacation? Share your story below! 

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