This story is just unbelievable to me. Unless what the “Sugar Plum Fairy” did is wildly different from what was reported in the newspaper, I think it’s a wild overreaction, and gross abuse of power on the part of the city of St. Charles. Laura Coppinger has truly given a voice and a personality to a character in a story who never actually utters a word, and she completely embodies the spirit of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I speak from experience–we’ve been enjoying her performances for many years!
If she was cursing in costume in front of children? Sure, a reprimand is in order. But at a drug-testing facility, off the clock, with no costume? Give me a break. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a good thing no one’s keeping track of when I use foul language when I’m upset with myself. I’d also really like to know what employee got their panties in a bunch and reported her–again, a gross abuse of power.
I hope the city of St. Charles rethinks this decision. If they don’t, I know two little girls who will be heartbroken if they don’t get to see their favorite Christmas character!
This is a story about how the Sugar Plum Fairy got fired.
Laura Coppinger played the holiday sprite for six years during the Christmas Traditions festival in St. Charles. By all accounts, the 29-year-old was a popular character at the monthlong festival along historic Main Street.
“The spin that I gave to her was that I was a fairy on a sugar high,” she said. “I was really loud and really over the top, and that’s probably why I was the Pied Piper of children,”
Her trouble started with a drug test. Festival hiring came under the control of the city of St. Charles this year, and all city employees are required to take the test. Coppinger was told to report to a local testing facility to give a urine sample.
After she filled the cup she accidentally flushed the toilet, a no-no. Apparently, some people try to dilute their samples with the incoming water.
“I don’t have to take drug tests too often,” she said, ‘so out of habit I flushed the toilet, and as soon as I did it I was like, oh, no.”
Coppinger said the woman working at the facility dumped her sample and told her she would have to go back to the waiting room until she could supply another one.
Coppinger, who also works as a substitute teacher in the St. Louis Public Schools, said that meant she was going to miss a job interview.
“Out of frustration with myself and frustration with the fact that I was going to have to sit another hour, I cursed,” she said.
Coppinger said she didn’t direct her words at anyone, but she was visibly angry, and she stomped back to the waiting room and started slurping down soda and water. A short time later, the woman working the counter told her that she should go home.
“I asked her why and she said, ‘I think you should call St. Charles HR about that,’ ” Coppinger said.
When she called the city, special events coordinator Karen Godfrey told her she had broken the Christmas Traditions code of conduct, specifically a section titled: “Christmas Characters Don’t Know Naughty Words.”