Snail ornament stirs love in Snellville

The hoopla over a snail ornament in Snellville has brought the Snells out of their shells.

Jan Snell Houston, whose great uncle, Thomas, was the city's founding father, said Wednesday she and her family can't fathom why the city objects to the slug-based bauble.

"I think it's cute," Houston said of the blue snail in a gold shell. "I don't think there's a dadgum thing wrong with it."

Houston tried to order one from City Hall but was told the 24th-edition ornament was not for sale. In fact, there have been so many calls from interested buyers, "we could have sold all 150 of them," Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said Wednesday.

On Monday night, the Snellville City Council put the kibosh on the holiday bauble after Councilman Tod Warner argued it moved the city backward, not forward, in efforts to shed its anti-business, poor quality-of-life image.

"It's important since we just started a new slogan, a new marketing push, that having a caricature of a negative stereotype of the word ‘Snellville' is not necessarily in keeping with a positive outlook," Warner said.

The 150 ornaments, purchased by the city for $800, will be handed out to city staffers who want one, with the rest locked in a vault. That doesn't sit well with Councilwoman Kelly Kautz.

"It's silly for us not to sell these ornaments if people want them. That just seems like a waste," said Kautz, who plans to broach the subject at the next council meeting July 26.

Not all locals like the ornament, though.

"I think it's disgusting," resident Marilyn Swinney said. "It makes Snellville look like a joke."

The bauble will be will be replaced by a new one bearing the farmers market logo. The city hopes to make it available by September.

For 24 years, Snellville's administrative staff has designed, purchased and sold holiday ornaments emblazoned with scenes from City Hall, Briscoe Park and the Senior Center, among others. City Clerk Melisa Arnold said although the snail has never appeared on the city ornament, it has been around for 30 years, used in park literature and on local Monopoly boards.

Houston, of the Snell family, doesn't see the big deal.

"I wish they'd just leave the snail on it," she said. "They're making a mountain out of a molehill."