Yuletide light display torn apart by vandals


An award-winning Christmas display, sporting more than 45,000 lights, will still be twinkling despite a vandal - or vandals - destroying the light feature.

Severed wires, missing reindeer and empty spaces now plague Shane Spalding's front garden after his light feature was targeted by vandals this week.

"I have thousands of lights, Santas, reindeer running through the garden, so many different figurines, flashing lights, stars and lights that twirl up the palm trees - it's covering the whole house and garden. Every year I accumulate more and add to the collection. It's not cheap but in all the years I've been decorating my house, nothing like this has ever happened before.

"I'm pretty gutted. I don't do this for me, I do it for the kids and the community."

Mr Spalding's Welcome Bay home has been dazzling the community on the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Lights Trail for more than seven years and in that time he has won top prize three times, placed second once and won a consolation prize.

One of the light displays he won from the Bay of Plenty Times for first prize was stolen, despite it being nailed to the ground.

"Sadly that prize would have been worth about $500 and it was screwed to a plank, so would have taken two people to lift it."

Mr Spalding estimated the vandals caused more than $600 damage.

It took him about three weeks to sort the decorations from their storage places and put them up all over his property.

Tuesday night was the first night of the 2012 Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Lights Trail, which was when Mr Spalding's home was vandalised.

"I went to bed and all the lights turned off about 10.30pm so it must of happened sometime after 11pm. I left at 4.30am to go to work so at that time of the day it was dark and I didn't notice." Mr Spalding got a phone call from his son on Wednesday afternoon saying the display had been damaged.

A reindeer that lit up with blue lights was ripped from its secure spot on the ground, leaving wires severed and empty spaces in his garden.

While he initially felt like simply taking down all his lights, Mr Spalding had decided not to let the vandals get the better of him.

"I just don't understand why anyone would do this, especially at Christmas time. My little girl is pretty upset but I won't get beaten down this easily."

The vandalism has been reported to police.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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