The Story Behind the Acushnet ‘Karen Sign’ Has a Happy Ending After All
For the second time in less than a year, a "My Neighbor Is A Karen" sign was hung up on the SouthCoast.
The first instance was over in the West End of New Bedford, where parked cars blocking a driveway sparked a feud.
This time, a sign was spotted on Main Street in Acushnet.
Gathering Leads to Complaint
On May 31, I put my Erin Brockovich hat on and made my way over to do a little investigating.
I met with 29-year-old homeowner Janelle Costa, who hung the "Karen" sign on a tree, and got to the bottom of her story.
Her property sits next to the Presidential Terrace apartment complex, home to 60 residents ranging in age from 26 to 104.
In December 2021, Costa moved to the Main street location in Acushnet from New Bedford.
"I was so excited to have a home of my own," she said. "I have three kids, ages 8, 2, and 3, and mind my own business. Since the start of the nicer weather we've been having, I had a couple of cookouts that went from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the latest. I had a small fire in the backyard for the kids to cook s'mores on and some of the residents complained."
The Acushnet Police Department was called multiple times.
'Karen' Sign Sends a Message
"I welcome my neighbors to join me," Costa said. "I'd rather have them enjoy the cookout with us than call the cops. That's when I posted the sign to let them know that, 'I don’t care what you do. It’s your life. Live it. You do you and I’ll do me.'"
It wasn't just cookouts. The police also were notified of noise complaints when Costa's husband was mowing the lawn and weed-whacking.
Before I talked with Costa's neighbor across the street who filed the complaints, I decided to ask her closest neighbor for her thoughts on Costa living next door.
"It’s excellent, and I love living here," Presidential Terrace resident Isabelle Sousa said. "I never had any issues and no break-ins. I feel safe here."
Sousa, 75, has been living at her Acushnet apartment for nine years.
"She's (Costa) the best," Sousa said. "She doesn’t bother me at all, and I love seeing and hearing her kids, it gives me life. They are very nice people.”
Face to Face
Finally, it was time to meet Peter, the Presidential Terrace resident who was constantly calling the police on the Costa family. I decided to take Costa with me. My hope was that the two would simply talk it out without me interfering.
To my surprise, the two came to an understanding. They even hugged.
It turns out Peter goes to bed early, around 7:30 p.m., and the cookouts were just too loud for him. The sound ordinance in town doesn't take effect until 10 p.m. However, Costa, having learned the issue, agreed to keep it down when 7:30 p.m. rolls around to respect Peter's needs.
It's been two weekends without the cops being called so Costa removed the sign. She also invited Peter over to her next backyard cookout.
Sometimes, when a tense situation comes about between two parties, it's best to just chat it out to get a better understanding of each other.
A happy ending in a small town. That's my kind of story.