JACKSONVILLE — A downtown store's holiday lighting was destroyed over the weekend, perhaps because the perpetrator or perpetrators didn't like the looks of its white LED lights.
Linda Graham, co-owner of Scheffel's Toys at the corner of California and Oregon streets, thinks the vandal or vandals may not have liked the cooler, brighter look of the LED bulbs she hung up this year compared with the warmer appearance of conventional bulbs.
She installed the strings to save electricity and demonstrate the possibility to others.
"It was my lofty goal to show that this was a good thing," said Graham. "I'm a firm believer in saving the environment. I wanted to say, 'Hey, this can be done in a smarter way.' "
Merchants in downtown Jacksonville decorate storefronts every year during the holidays with white bulbs.
Graham said she was the only one using the LEDs and that no other displays were targeted. City officials say they had fielded complaints from the public about the tint of Scheffel's lighting.
"At least eight people came up to me and said they liked them," Graham reported. The lights covered an estimated 150 feet along the side and front of the building and had been put up on Nov. 18.
Light strings had either been torn down or cut from the building, then stomped on. When Graham and her staff arrived at about 9:30 a.m Sunday, they found strings on the sidewalk, draped over a fire hydrant and in the gutter. Christmas garlands, however, were not disturbed.
"In all the 20 years we lived around the corner and all the years we had the store, we've never had this kind of vandalism," said Graham.
Neighbors who live behind the store told Graham they heard a lot of rowdy noise during the night. Jacksonville police officials were not available Monday to answer questions about the vandalism.
Graham said she will continue to use LEDs, but has found sets that give off a warmer light. She and her husband, Bill, strung the new lights Monday evening. Graham said she had spent about $130 on the light strings that were destroyed.
"The first couple of days I was ready to let it go dark," said Graham. "But we are not going to let them win."
Tony Boom is an Ashland freelancer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.