Mother mistakenly asked to remove son's graduation sign from front lawn

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Call it a sign of the times- small messages for graduating seniors decorate millions of front lawns across the country.

Nikki Hilbert seen carrying signs on her front lawn commemorating her son's graduation. Her Palmetto Trace home owner's association admits to mistakenly sending her a letter warning her the signs were not allowed. (WJHG/WECP)

“Just two little signs have such huge meaning for these kids that aren’t getting to experience what they should this time of year,” said Nikki Hilbert, whose son is a graduating senior at Arnold High School.

For some, it’s the only way to celebrate a right of passage they may never receive. Hilbert said, “it means so much, I mean we just hit a milestone in my son’s life. I can’t believe he’s graduating. I’m so proud of him.”

That’s why Hilbert said she was surprised when she received a warning letter from her home owners association in her Palmetto Trace neighborhood saying signs were not allowed.

Hilbert explained, “there are rules to follow and since we aren’t, there are some write-ups being done. It’s called ‘unauthorized signage in the yard’.”

Someone who sympathizes with Hilbert is Steve Moss, the chairman of the Bay District Schools board and also her neighbor.

“This class of '20 not only did they have the hurricane just in 2018, now they have this coronavirus so they’ve been through a lot. So to me it makes a really really proud moment seeing those signs,” said Moss.

Hilbert said, “I just pray and hope that they’ll keep it just at warnings for us,” and it appears they now will.

Burg Management sent us a statement saying "Due to the COVID crisis and the postponement of graduation ceremonies, Burg Management requested leniency from the Palmetto Trace Board of Directors to allow owners to have graduation signs. The Board unanimously agreed to allow the yard signs. Unfortunately, one owner was sent a letter in error. Upon realization of this, Management immediately reached out to the owner with a sincere apology and advised that the sign could remain in the yard. The owner acknowledged the apology and said there was no need to apologize as she understood there were rules. She also stated that she was very happy to live in such a great community."

After receiving this statement from Burg, we reached back out to Hilbert who said she did receive the apology call after we reached out to Burg seeking comment for our story.

Hilbert said, “I want to do whatever I can to scream out loud ‘my son’s a graduate’,” and if she can’t scream it, at least now she can show it.

The HOA management company said it tried to call the homeowner sooner but did not have a good contact number, and they emphasize they will not ask anyone else to remove graduation signs from yards.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.