Grinch stops Keys drivers, offers choice of a ticket or an onion

Kevin Fedigan receives an onion from Maj. Lou Caputo of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, costumed as the Grinch.
Kevin Fedigan receives an onion from Maj. Lou Caputo of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, costumed as the Grinch.


Drivers who speed a just little through certain school zones on U.S.1 in the Florida Keys during the holidays might just get an onion from the Grinch instead of a traffic citation.

Maj. Lou Caputo from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office wears the Grinch costume and often aims a radar speed gun accompanied by other officers. He says he portrays the fictional character created by children's author Dr. Seuss to give motorists a "gift," but also to call attention in a nice way to the need to obey speed limits in school zones.

Motorists caught by the Grinch who travel about 5 mph or less above the school zone speed limit can choose between traffic citations and aged onions presented by the Grinch. Those speeding beyond that get a ticket.

When a car is pulled over, uniformed deputies approach the driver to check the vehicle's license plate and driver's license. If all is in order, the Grinch surprises the driver, provides a light-hearted — but serious —verbal warning and then offers the choice between a citation or an onion.

Caputo said inspiration to wear the costume came shortly after the live-action movie starring Jim Carrey came out.

"The Grinch is a lovable creature, so I thought this would be a great thing to do," Caputo said. "To do it in a school zone, so that people will see you."

Anthony Martin, a Keys visitor from Barnegat, N.J., was one of several drivers waved off the highway Tuesday afternoon opposite Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon.

"I'll take the onion anytime," said Martin, while kissing the vegetable the Grinch gave him. "I appreciate it and I will respect the speed limit from now on."

Caputo, 63, also wears the costume to preschool and elementary functions.

Read more Florida Keys stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category