Vandals mar bear statues
Four fiberglass bears that are among dozens scattered around town as part of the CeleBEARtion campaign have been vandalized, from holes in the head to broken decorative pieces.
The four are loosely grouped near Stateline around the Heavenly Village. One is a bear decorated with a starry scene poised in front of Quiznos Sub on the corner of Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Park Avenue.
Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority who had the CeleBEARtion idea, said the bear “looked like it had been stabbed in the back of the head and there’s a crack down the back of his head.”
Kaler heard about the damages Monday and believed they took place during the Memorial Day weekend. He did not contact police in hoping it will be a one-time instance.
A “bogey bear” with golf accents at Embassy Suites Resort had a pipe broken off, while at Heavenly Village’s transit center, a “Tahoma bear” looked as if it was struck by a hammer. In addition, paint had been chipped off the right paw.
“It couldn’t have been done with a key or punching it,” Kaler said of the gap. “They had to have had a blunt object to do it.”
Kaler said he expected some damage to the 50 bears around town for the summer that will eventually be auctioned to raise money for youth organizations. Thus a fund of roughly $1,000 to cover damages will help fix vandalism. A monetary estimate of the damages had not been completed, Kaler said.
“I had hoped it wouldn’t happen within the first two weeks,” he said.
Gardnerville artist Stanley Veale, who breathed life into a “tourist bear,” was dismayed to hear vandals took a Polaroid camera and sunglasses from the piece at Lakeside Landing.
Since the camera was worthless and the sunglasses were abandoned in his car, Veale said money isn’t the issue but the act itself.
“It really wasn’t worth anything,” he said. “That’s what kind of bugs me.”
Veale is in the midst of creating a wooden camera he will screw to the bear’s chest. He hasn’t determined how to make the sunglasses more theft-proof.
The inspiration for Kaler’s CeleBEARtion was Chicago, where 322 decorative cows were displayed and later auctioned for a total of $1 million. Kaler said some of those cows were also vandalized.
So were some Charlie Browns. Last summer in Santa Rosa, the hometown of Charles Schultz, creator of the comic strip “Peanuts,” displayed 55 varieties of the lovable but bumbling Charlie Brown.
A Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce official said several statues were vandalized, with one even being abducted and ransomed for its return. One Charlie Brown had his surfboard ripped off five times, an official said.
The bear statues will be auctioned in the fall with money going to youth organizations. Those involved with CeleBEARtion hope the vandalism ceases.
“Anything that reduces their appearance is going to reduce the amount of money we can raise,” Veale said.