AUBURN — To Leroy Walker, they are idiots. Not Grinches or Scrooges — just idiots.
That's how Walker, city councilor for New Auburn and the rest of Ward 5, described the vandals who destroyed New Auburn's Christmas display in Sullivan Square behind Rolly's Diner on Monday night.
"They're just idiots who hate nice things," Walker said. "Someone has something nice, and the kids have a nice thing to look at and they just want to destroy it. Either they had a bad bringing-up, or they've gone bad growing up. I don't know which."
Vandals pulled Christmas lights from nearby Rolly's Diner, cut electrical cords to the live pine tree in the middle of the park and crushed, bent and destroyed wire-frame reindeer and a sleigh.
"At least they didn't try to burn the tree," Walker said. "I guess that didn't occur to them."
Walker said he understands that Auburn police early Tuesday morning had arrested a group of young men on suspicion of vandalizing the New Auburn display.
Deputy Chief Jason Moen said police arrested Joshua Philbrook, 22, of Minot Avenue in Auburn and Nicholas Ayer, 23, of 133 Spring St. in Lewiston and charged them with criminal mischief.
Philbrook was charged with vandalizing the display. Ayer was charged with jumping on the hood of a car parked in front of a South Main Street apartment. The incident is still being investigated.
The decorations were put up in the tiny park by the United New Auburn Association, a group of local businesses.
"We've been adding to it a piece at a time for the last three years or so," Walker said. "I figure we had more than $2,000 in decorations out there. Now we have about $20 worth left."
Rolly's Diner owner Ken Blais said someone shot a pellet gun at one of his windows Sunday night and cut some of the lights on the Christmas tree. He reported that vandalism to the police Monday morning, he said.
"But then, I got to work at 4:30 a.m. (Tuesday) and I saw this mess," Blais said. "I called the police, but they knew about it and said they already had someone in custody."
Blais said he suspects Monday night's vandalism was connected to Sunday night's vandalism.
Walker said he and other association members planned to clean decorations Tuesday and fix what they could.
"And this isn't stopping us," Walker said. "We'll be back next year and we'll replace what we can afford to replace. We're not expecting to be able to salvage much of what's left."