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Mannequin sign holder stripped of job by city
Dressed in a mini skirt, the pretty, long-legged sign holder in front of Allied Cash Advance on Hatch Road had been generating a lot of attention.

Too much attention, in fact. There were a lot of double-takes and stares. Some even honked at her.

She wasn't your average minimum-wage gum-chomping employee prone to be distracted by a text on her cell phone. That girl rocking the sign back and forth was a motorized mannequin - an illegal sign according to the city of Ceres.

"That's an interesting concept there," said Senior Planner Tom Westbrook, who instructed city code enforcement officer Frank Alvarez to remove the sign, er, mannequin.

Stella - as she was called by Allied Cash Advance branch manager Beatrice Duran - was put away on Monday after a two-week appearance.

"I thought she was cool," commented Duran. "Some customers thought she was real. Our company requires us to flip signs every day, 15 minutes at a time."

Duran is confused as to why her sign holder is illegal when the human kind are allowed to do their thing.

"Even Round Table hires a sign holder so does Verizon," she said the day after she put away the $3,000 Stella.

Duran fired off a letter to her district manager to see what becomes of "Stella." She theorized she might find use in another community where a branch operates.

"We enforce on a complaint type basis but this is something that needs to be addressed," said Westbrook. "Obviously we can't allow things that constitute a traffic or safety hazard."

Westbrook said he had never seen the likes of "Stella" to draw attention to a business but another planner working at City Hall had spotted a similar one in a San Joaquin County city.

Specifically, Section 18.42.140 of the Ceres Municipal Code lists all types of signs that are illegal. The mannequin is in violation because it - take your pick - is in the public right of way, consists of any moving or swinging or animated components, and is a portable or freestanding sign not permanently affixed, anchored or secured to the ground or structure on the lot they occupy.

The sign had been the short-lived talk of Ceres.

"I first saw that and thought what the heck, that looks weird," said customer Jenni Beasley who was at Starbucks near the sign.

"It definitely caught my eyes," said a shopping center delivery man who asked not to be identified because of problems it might cause at home. "She has nice legs."

According to a Florida manufacturer website, the mannequin sign holder is "the best employee you will ever have: No Bathroom Breaks, No Lunch Breaks, No Liability, No Taxes to Pay, No Insurance."

In Ceres, add No Approval at City Hall.