We’re barely into the holiday season, and already vandals have targeted the State House Christmas tree in Concord, New Hampshire.
The 28-foot tree was only up for a few hours Wednesday before police say vandals tore off the bulbs and smashed them on the plaza.
“It’s just crazy how they did it,” said state legislator Dick Patten.
We met Patten Thursday afternoon while he stood at the tree, on the phone with Concord Police.
“Some of them are still in the socket broken off,” Patten said of the bulbs.
He was explaining the crime that he says is particularly personal.
“I’m also known in Concord as Mr. Christmas,” he told necn.
Patten says for the last 30 years, he’s been in charge of the tree and the city’s holiday celebration the day after Thanksgiving.
“This is just downright stupid, I don’t get it,” he said.
Police tell us the vandals struck at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, smashing bulbs all the way up to the state’s Capitol building.
“It’s rotten what they did,” said Kim Hughes.
“I think it’s really sad - it’s such a symbol of happiness,” said state legislator Beth Rodd.
“Just needless and I don’t know why,” Concord resident Rick Wagner said.
Patten thinks it could be an attack on religion, but others wonder if it the vandals were sending a calculated political message in front of the State House.
“We’ve had a really rough campaign,” Rodd said. “It’s been nasty.”
“People aren’t in the happiest of moods right now,” added Julia Wagner.
No matter what the motive, Patten says the damage is all the same.
“It’s going to probably cost me another $300 to get more bulbs,” Patten said.
And though that will likely come from his own pocket, he won’t let the grinches get the best of him.
When we asked whether the celebration on Nov. 25 would go on, he replied, “Oh yeah, it’s definitely going to go on. It brings the community together for a great night to celebrate the holiday season.”
Patten has been raising money for this year’s holiday celebration since June. He says they’re still $1,500 in the hole, and now this.
To donate, call Patten at 603-496-2917 or send check to Dick Patten at 30 Pinewood Trail, Concord, NH 03301.
Police are still looking for the people responsible.