Just how much misery can one neighborhood take in a single year?
As local Councilman Francisco Moya attempted to bring holiday cheer to a neighborhood that has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic since becoming the “epicenter of the epicenter” at the virus’ peak in the spring, vandals took the opportunity to trash the display two days after its debut.
Because “we can’t be together like we normally are during the holidays,” Moya pushed to transform the 40th annual tree lighting ceremony at William F. Moore Park into an unprecedented Wonderland Holiday theme designed by artist Yesenia Calle.
“It is like an awakening of the human spirit in our neighborhood,” Moya said. “And it makes me very excited that we are bringing this here to Corona.”
The Winter Wonderland installation was adorned with thousands of lights, more than 25 dazzling Christmas trees, several interactive Christmas scenes — including a family of sparkling reindeer — and a custom-built 14-foot Christmas tree made of lights. The park entrances on 108th Street and at Corona Avenue were illuminated with arches covered in ornaments when the display made its debut Friday, Dec. 4.
“The Winter Wonderland installation was inspired by Councilman Moya’s desire to bring much needed holiday cheer to neighborhoods impacted by the pandemic,” Calle said. “I wanted to do my part by designing the display that could offer a way to escape, find joy and bring a sense of renewal during the holidays. That’s how the Winter Wonderland installation came to life. It makes them feel like they have somewhere to go, feel together and not alone.”
But by Sunday morning, the display had been partially trashed by vandals. Holes were punched in the tree of lights as others were bent to the ground and lights and ornaments were smashed to pieces, according to Moya, who discovered the damage and was crestfallen. He denounced the vandals and encouraged peace and vowed to repair the damage.
“We’ve gone through enough,” Moya said. “We need peace and not vandals looking to destroy our neighborhoods and the things that make it beautiful.”
The park has been cleaned up and is open to the public while repairs continue. Meanwhile, there was additional vandalism at Moya’s district office where damage was done to an exterior holiday display.
“We need peace, not vandalism in our neighborhoods. If the issue is with me, that’s one thing, it’s another thing to want to destroy the artwork outside my district office and vandalize the Winter Wonderland installation at William F. Moore Park that had so much work, resources and love put into for our community,” Moya said. “We are not going to let this bring down our spirits and I am grateful for the outpouring of support from the community looking to help restore the damage. We are going to build it back bigger and better.
Police said an investigation into the vandalism incident is underway.
Additional reporting by Gabriele Holtermann.