Vandals steal the show at Fantasy of Lights

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People were shaking their heads Monday as they walked around Franke Park. “I think it’s terrible. I don’t know what’s wrong with people,” Marilyn Romano said.

Romano was out walking when she noticed the damage. “It’s horrible. We come out here walking and we see all this glass.”

Pieces of glass, shattered lights and kicked over signs are some of the sights along the Fantasy of Lights route. Just after opening Sunday night, organizers were told people saw two kids on bikes kicking things over.

“We assume that they were just delinquents wanting to create havoc,” Tony Hudson, executive director of Blue Jacket, said.

A lot of the displays were off including the big arches. Plugs were stolen or unplugged and thrown in the woods, creating some panic with a steady flow of cars. “It was completely dark and so as cars were going through with their headlights off it made for pretty hazardous conditions.”

The vandals didn’t damage any of the light displays, just what’s around them. “Thankfully the display themselves weren’t touched but the signs and the flood lights and our connectors were all broken and taken and smashed.”

Some say it was sad to see to see a tradition in its 23rd year attracting 20,000 vehicles a year get damaged. “It’s a shame. That’s all I gotta say.”

But lights are being plugged back in and the show will go on. “People really love this holiday event and we’re thankful for it. We put a lot into it and we really appreciate how much the Fort Wayne community has really rallied behind this issue.”

Fantasy of Lights is mostly back to normal and opened Monday at six. The last repairs could take three more days to a week to finish.

Hudson encouraged people to call police if they see someone not wearing Blue Jacket clothing touching the displays. He also said the kids who did it could likely end up in their program and he hopes they’ll become ‘some of their best volunteers.’