Vandals damage Christmas display days before tree lighting event

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Police are searching for the person(s) responsible for vandalizing a Christmas display just days before it was set to be showcased during a holiday event.

Click the link to see a slideshow of the damage -

City officials believe they destroyed the decorations in Jambalaya Park on Sunday night. On Monday morning, city workers discovered ornaments that had apparently been yanked from the Christmas tree, as well as empty light sockets, and other destroyed festive displays. They say the display is part of a tree lighting event that's scheduled for Tuesday, December 7.

"This is incredibly upsetting," said City of Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux. "Why anyone would intentionally set out to demolish a display that brings much joy to many people is beyond comprehension."

City workers took pictures of the park bathroom covered in toilet paper. They said someone broke the door and even cut down a small oak tree outside.

"This event is not just the lighting of a Christmas tree," said City Clerk Clay Stafford. "It provides gifts to area children."

The Department of Public Works braved the nasty weather to start putting the Christmas decorations they could save back where they belonged. Arceneaux said they spent the month of November getting the park ready for the annual lighting ceremony, which takes place on Tuesday.

"We are going to be ready for it. We are going to replace what we've got to replace and have it all ready to go and Santa is going to be here on time and we'll be ready for the young kids," said Arceneaux.

There were a few ornaments the city had to toss, but for the most part, it appears they are ready to celebrate. As for who is behind the vandalism, the mayor said he suspects it might be a group of teens who have been hanging around the park after dark. The Gonzales Police Department is investigating.

"This was a purposeful damage of property," said Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson. "And during the holiday season. What a sad thing to see. We will find the culprit or culprits, and we will charge them to the fullest extent of the law."

"The only thing I can surmise, it's someone who wasn't raised properly or got nothing else to do in their life. It's just sad," said Arceneaux.

The tree lighting is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m. If anyone has any information, they are asked to contact the City of Gonzales Police Department by calling 225-647-7511.

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