A festive fixture in Belleville’s Christmas celebrations is in ruins Tuesday, and police are still looking for the culprits.
Sometime over the weekend, police say vandals wrecked the city’s annual “festival of lights” display in a local park, causing close to $10,000 in damage.
The display also has long-standing sentimental ties.
“I’ve been doing this display for over 10 years and this is by far the worst vandalism we’ve ever seen,” Belleville parks department employee Tim Schaly said.
“They had knocked over additional snow cones, they had pushed over large displays, they had taken a candy cane that was part of the display and unfortunately used it as a weapon against some of the other smaller displays. Five to 10 per cent of the display was damaged.”
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Belleville police Const. Brittney Blake said it is currently “unknown whether it was one individual or multiple individuals who were responsible for the damage.”
“However, we are very, very disappointed and actively looking to find out who was responsible for this,” Blake said.
It’s a display that has marked over 60 years in the community, and it’s more than just a light show.
The display was originally a tribute to the lives of two Belleville residents, Billy Foster and Art (Sonny) Culloden, who lost their lives in a car accident on Christmas Day in 1958.
Following the accident, Foster’s parents built a Christmas display in his memory, and over the years it has become an annual fixture of the park.
“The church is one of the original pieces and it got toppled over and the steeple was broken,” Schaly said.
“It’s very unfortunate around this time all the decorations are up and it’s a happy time of year and people are being positive and celebrating in their own way and it’s very unfortunate that there’s individuals out there who are causing damage to these displays,” Blake said.
Belleville police are asking for the public’s help to identify possible suspects. Anyone with information is asked to contact Belleville police or Quinte Crime Stoppers.
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