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Northwoods Vandals

Rhinelander Christmas Lights Vandalized


Story By Rachael Perry
Weekend Newscasts Published 11/29/2020 10:06PM, Last Updated 11/29/2020 11:32PM
Rhinelander -

Lights of the Northwoods is preparing for their upcoming Hodag Park light display, similar to last year, volunteers keep returning to new damage. 


"Taking this away from these kids, taking this away from the community, taking it away from everybody who comes to enjoy this, I really wish they would stop doing it," said Chairperson Shawn Will.  


Squirrels are common suspects when wires are cut, leaving a chewed rigid end, the rodents however are quickly ruled out when a straight cut is found - indicating sharp objects such as scissors and knives are responsible.


Left to pick up the pieces, Lights of the Northwoods President Don Hoppe can't find a reason for why people would want to cause the damage. 


"I don't know if it's showing off to friends, or if it's just that  they want to be mean.. I don't know, I don't do it so it's hard to tell why they do it unless you do it," he said.


The decorations are donated from businesses and sponsors such as the Lions Club and local food pantries. 

Similar to the park, the Rhinelander community has also fallen victim to vandals. Amy Stefonik noticed something wrong and quickly realized her Christmas lights were off.


"We looked at the video footage and sure enough there's the kid who decided to snip the wires," said Stefonik.


The incident happened November 19th at 10:50 p.m., as the boy approached the stairs he could be seen staring straight into the camera, "He takes something out of his pocket, I think it was a knife because it was a straight splice. He didn't try to do just one wire he went to do all of them at once so I think he got a good little shock."


But still, Stefonik is only seeking an apology and said she understands how boys can having two of her own. 


Hodag Park enlisted the help of trail cameras to help surveillance the park and steer vandals away along with contacting the police department.. 


"We'd like to have an apology, we'd like for people to understand there's  a major investment with the park itself lights and infrastructure that we put in to help put on this display," said Will.


Volunteers encourage others to come forward with any information and help stand up for the community.


"It's been a terrible year so we've got the lights this year and then on new year's day we're going to have fireworks at night to cap it off, something for people to look forward to and just say, 'hey its been a bad year but let's start the new year right'," said Hoppe.


The lights begin December 11th for drive- through viewing.


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