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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – If COVID-19 and winter weather weren’t enough to delay the lighting of the Christmas in the Park (CITP) displays, vandals were.
“Some criminal minds decided to vandalize the Christmas in the Park light displays in Childress Fair Park,” said Judy Johnson, CITP committee member. “This has been a tough pill to swallow.”
Peggy Teague, president of CITP committee, said vandals stole light bulbs and plugged others in when they were not supposed to be, causing her committee to reset the breakers.
“I don’t get it,” Teague said. “I just want the people to respect the park and the work that goes into it.”
Johnson was disappointed, recalling the hard work that goes into lighting the park. She wants the public to know about the countless hours it takes to have the park turn-on ready after Thanksgiving.
“No one knows how many hours the Murphy family and the 95 Childress High School students and their sponsors worked for weeks,” Johnson said. This year Roach Unit prisoners could not help because of COVID-19, so CHS shop students helped volunteer Danny Murphy and his grandson Sean put up the Christmas light displays.
Once the lights come on, they bring happiness, smiles and memories for so many. Johnson said the vandals don’t think about the people who anxiously await seeing the lighted displays at Fair Park.
“They don’t care how many children are disappointed when the lights don’t shine,” Johnson added.
While Johnson said this is not the first year for this to happen, it is the earliest.
“Last year, they unplugged the timers at the Rotary Bowl,” Teague added.
Teague was so upset she went to Facebook, asking parents to talk to their kids about respecting the efforts of others and asking the public to be on the lookout.
“I feel like it’s kids just horsing around,” she explained. “We would like people to help us keep a watch.”
Childress Police Sargent and School Resource Officer Gerald Johnson said if they find the person responsible, they will be charged with criminal mischief. The offense could range from a ticket to jail time. If the person responsible is a juvenile, they could be sent off to a juvenile facility, depending on the amount of the damage.
Johnson added Childress PD has added a heavier patrol at the park.
An award will be set up to help police find those responsible, Judy Johnson added.
“Our family will make the first donation toward a reward leading to the arrest of those responsible for this crime,” she said. “We hope others will join the members of CITP in preserving a beautiful 25-year tradition in Childress and the area.”
The park lights will continue to shine from 6 p.m. to11 p.m. through the night of Jan. 1, 2021, but Johnson said COVID-19 cases in the area have forced the cancellation of this year’s Santa parade through Fair Park.
“The Christmas in the Park committee is saddened,” she said. “Every effort will be made to be back on schedule with the parade next year. Thanks to all who planned to participate.”