The Lighthouses

on Parade display

is sponsored by Maine businesses.

PORTLAND (AP) – Six of the entries in the Lighthouses on Parade were vandalized over the Memorial Day weekend, and fliers were distributed encouraging further vandalism.

Sixty-five of the 10-foot-tall lighthouse replicas have been placed in communities from Wells to Brunswick, but are concentrated in downtown Portland. The lighthouses are sponsored by Maine businesses and will be auctioned off this fall to raise money for local charities.

Authorities do not know whether the damage was done by a common vandal or an intolerant art critic, though the fliers would suggest the latter. The fliers say the lighthouses are little more than advertising because many carry company logos on them.

Barbara Keefe, an organizer and board member for the Maine Center on Deafness and the Senator George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute, two of the nonprofits that will benefit from the displays, said it made her sad when she heard of the vandalism.

“I was really puzzled, too. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to destroy community art,” she said.

Organizers of the Lighthouses on Parade display are hoping Mainers rally in defense of the decorative icons. Keefe said the lighthouses have been a welcome addition to Maine streets.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about the art the professionals did and that children did. It really crosses the spectrum of involvement,” Keefe said. She said one disgruntled person should not dictate the landscape for those people who find the lighthouses fun, educational and attractive.

The lighthouses are patterned after similar theme installations done in other cities, including cows in Chicago, fish in Richmond, Va., and horses in Rochester, N.Y.

At the end of the summer, the lighthouses will be auctioned, with proceeds benefiting the Cancer Community Center, the Maine Center on Deafness and the Senator George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute, as well as the charity of choice of the auction’s high bidder.

But the fliers, which are unsigned, say public art should not have advertisements of sponsors on them.

“To the real artists in Portland, who go without money or fame or exhibition, the lighthouses are insulting,” the fliers read.

The vandalism hurts the charitable efforts because the organization must spend money on repairs and because damaged installations won’t be as popular at auction, organizers say.

Damaged lighthouses were located at Monument Square, 1 Portland Square and the park at Temple and Middle streets.

Vandalism is a crime and can lead to jail time and a hefty fine.

“The city and the art community are trying to do something nice for the community and a moron like this is trying to subvert it,” Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood said.

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