Christmas vandals strike in Halfway

December 30, 1998

Christmas vandalsBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

HALFWAY- Vandals violated the holiday scene in L.J. Barnes' yard again on Tuesday, making him wonder if putting up the display is worthwhile.

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A week ago, Winnie the Pooh vanished from the display. Mickey Mouse disappeared soon after.

When Barnes awoke on Tuesday, he found candy canes askew and lights broken. The plastic snowman was face down. Santa Claus had been thrown on a neighbor's lawn.

"It's a shame, it really is," said Barnes, standing among the damaged decorations. When he plugged them in, strings of bulbs stayed dark. Other ornaments glowed dimly in the damp, gray afternoon.


"This is supposed to be a season for giving. You do this for people to enjoy. I enjoyed it when I was a kid. But if the vandalism doesn't stop, people aren't going to do it anymore," he said.

Barnes recently moved into his Halfway-area house. He built the display for the first time, using his brother's decorations. The two of them began putting together the scene on Nov. 21. It took five weekends for them to complete the job, they said.

They entered a Christmas display contest sponsored by a local radio station.

On Dec. 21, the radio station called Barnes to tell him he had won $1,000.

The next day, Winnie the Pooh was gone. Barnes bought a new Mickey Mouse for $39.95 at Lowe's. A few nights ago, he noticed it, too, had been stolen.

Tuesday's vandalism may have been the last straw.

"It's a lot of time and money to lose," said Barnes, who estimated that $300 worth of decorations had been stolen or damaged. "It's worth it for the kids, but is it worth all this trouble?"

Down the street, Harold Martin tells a similar story.

Martin, 69, said his plastic tombstones were stolen on Halloween. He found his snowman painted black during the 1996 Christmas season. He cleaned it up but it was stolen the following year.

His Winnie the Pooh also disappeared.

After an article about the theft ran in this newspaper, Martin got an anonymous tip by telephone. He found the Pooh figure in the Winter Street school yard. It was the only time he recovered a stolen decoration.

L.J. Barnes wants his Winnie the Pooh back, too.

"Whoever took him, please bring him home," he said.

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