Man denied plaque for squirrel in Palmerton park
Butters the Squirrel rests on the shoulder of Edward Condon. Condon fed Butters almost every day for a year until she died earlier this year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Butters the Squirrel sits on a bench in the Palmerton Park. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
A Palmerton man who started a Facebook page for a friendly neighborhood squirrel is now looking for a way to memorialize her.
Butters, who was the subject of a popular social media fan account called “Butters the Squirrel,” was known by a group of people in town for her unusually social nature. Ed Condon, who started the account, met with the squirrel every day, capturing photos of her eating peanuts, climbing his pant leg and sitting in trees.
The page was quite beloved by locals, garnering more than 100 followers since its creation in April.
Pictures Condon took of Butters even graced the pages of the magazine Town & Country Gazette. And back in January, the 27-year-old and the squirrel were the subjects of a television report, where Condon was nicknamed the “squirrel whisperer.”
“She kind of found me,” Condon, who feeds other squirrels in the park but only ever made a connection with Butters, said.
But in October — just barely over a year after Condon and Butters met — Condon found she had been hit by a car and killed. He buried Butters in his Palmerton backyard and announced her death posting on Facebook.
“This was the last thing I had expected just after hitting the one year anniversary of meeting her,” Condon wrote on the page, “but I suppose things happen when you least expect them to.”
Speaking of her death now though, Condon adds that with Butters being a wild squirrel, he knew nature would one day take its course.
“It didn’t really hit me really hard at first,” he said. “Her (Butters) being out in the wild, it’s not like I could take care of her forever.”
“I kind of figured that’s how it would have happened in the end anyway.”
In an effort to remember the small town star, Condon asked if a plaque could be placed in the park in Butters’ honor. But when he pitched that to borough officials, Condon said, he was shot down.
Borough Manager Donna McGarry said the borough only recently started allowing memorials for humans, let alone animals. McGarry continued that while she sympathizes with Condon’s loss, if the borough were to grant his request, it “could open the door to a lot of requests for these types of memorials, and it’s just not something that we believe the park was intended for.”
McGarry said Condon might be able to plant a tree for Butters, but not a plaque.
“We have to be careful about putting things in the park that interfere with maintenance, interfere with activities,” McGarry said. “We can’t take everybody’s attachment to an animal and memorialize it in the park.”
Still, Condon said for him and a group of friends, who all play Pokémon Go, Butters was a mascot, and he thinks “people would get a kick” out of a tribute to her.
“I figured she had made an impact on so many of us that it would be nice to dedicate something to her, even if was just a plaque,” Condon said.
“Honestly, I’d pay for it out of my own pocket if they would have said yes.”
Condon started an online petition last week, calling for a feeding station to be placed in the park at Palmerton’s center in memory of Butters.
It has garnered more than 100 signatures to date.
To access the petition, visit Butters’ Facebook page.