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Vandalism unifies neighborhood

Posted: December 15, 2010 8:53 p.m.
Updated: December 16, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Robert Greenquist surveys Christmas decorations Monday that were strewn across the lawn of his Saugus home by vandals. In light of the incident, his neighbors have helped pitch in to replace the damaged holiday lawn adornments.

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Robert Greenquist stood in his yard looking over the tangled wreckage that just hours ago was his front-yard holiday lights display.

A snowman lay toppled over. Reindeers stood, but their necks were disfigured.

The decorations he and his wife, Patty, had carefully collected for decades were destroyed overnight by vandals.

But residents in the community are collecting money and decorations to replenish his supply. Shannon Smith is leading the charge, coordinating the fundraising and decoration donations.

The vandals struck in the early morning hours Monday, dismantling and disfiguring most of the lawn ornaments.

The recently retired couple was devastated.

“You don’t understand,” Robert Greenquist said. “It takes me a week to get prepared, put (the decorations) up, plug them all in and get everything working.

“It’s maddening,” he said. “It’s the holiday season. You don’t expect it.”

The holiday lights decorations at the Greenquists’ Calhaven Street home has been a neighborhood favorite for decades.

“We look forward to seeing what his house looks like every single year,” neighbor Cindy Morris said. “We do appreciate that he decorates it so beautifully.”

Morris said it was a heartbreaking scene Monday morning.

“It’s just a sad thing,” she said.

Morris said the Greenquists are one of the first residents in the neighborhood to decorate their home for Christmas. They start not long after Thanksgiving.

It’s a long-lasting Greenquist tradition dating to 1981, when the couple celebrated their first Christmas in the house.

The Greenquists had been building up their holiday collection since then.

“I can’t put a value on it,” Robert Greenquist said.

Patty Greenquist is worried that if they put up more decorations, those will be vandalized, too.

If vandals cause more than $400 in damage, they could be charged with a felony, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

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