LEWISTON — Despite arriving at work Tuesday morning to find tents set up for the Dempsey Challenge buried in mud and rain, Jason LeBourdais hopes the community rallies to support this weekend's major fundraising effort.
"I'm trying to look at the positive here," LeBourdais said Tuesday night. "The good news is, the Dempsey (Challenge) will go on. We were able to fix it."
LeBourdais, general manager of Lewiston-Auburn Tent & Awning Co. Inc., reported 7:30 a.m. Tuesday that the 2-inch ratchet ropes that held up tents at Simard-Payne Memorial Park had been cut. He said vandals sliced 66 ropes holding up two massive dining tents, one 120 feet by 40 feet and the other 80 feet by 40 feet. as well as a couple of smaller tents. Only the two larger tents fell.
The damage occurred sometime overnight, LeBourdais said, adding that he left the site around 7:30 p.m. Monday.
LeBourdais said the worst part of the vandalism was that the culprits must have continued cutting straps long after the larger tents had fallen. He said cutting just one side's worth of straps would have brought down the entire tent.
Police are investigating the vandalism. Sgt. Trevor Campbell said there were no suspects as of Tuesday night.
"It's an unfortunate incident, but we have full confidence that the tent company is going to fix the problem," said Mark Turcotte, spokesman for the Dempsey Challenge. "We just want to focus on the weekend and creating great memories for all involved."
LeBourdais said damage to the straps totaled more than $2,000. He said that didn't include the added costs for labor — it took seven workers four hours to put the awnings up on Monday — or to clean the mud and rainwater off the tents.
"It's really a shame," LeBourdais said. "This is our community and this is what we have become. I'm just hoping that everybody rises above it and feels like this (vandalism) is part of Lewiston, but it's not all of Lewiston."