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Community bands together to re-open Walker Wonderland

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 5:54pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — Jayden Swearingen noticed it first. She and her mother, Nikki, were walking around the Walker Wonderland display off of highway 1029 Wednesday afternoon. That's when the five-year-old saw something unusual.

"My little one noticed it had a hole in it," Nikki says, of one of the inflatable decorations. "I thought maybe the seam had ripped."

The more they walked, the more holes they noticed.

"I think someone chopped it," Jayden says

City officials say someone took a knife to more than half of the inflatable Christmas decorations in the Sidney Hutchinson Park Tuesday night. Then, they tore down some Christmas lights and destroyed a lot of the metal lawn ornaments.

When the Swearingen's learned that someone had intentionally destroyed the display, they were angry.

"I guess they think it's cute and they think their friends are going to have a big laugh which is really not funny," Nikki says. "It's stupid. There's really no decency anymore."

City workers say not to worry. Jesse Juban has been out in the park since nearly seven in the morning, putting his sewing skills to good use. He and several other city workers stitched up every popped inflatable by hand.

"I worked for almost three hours on the big Santa Clause this morning, and I was told when I started that it couldn't be fixed," Juban says. "Well, unless you get really close, you can't tell that nothing was ever wrong with it."

He's disappointed in the vandals.

"It's not like going out and getting into mischief," he says. "As far as I care, this is criminal."

Still, he says he won't let this act of vandalism get the community down.

"We'd like to have all of this ready for the kids tonight because they're mesmerized by it. They really are."

He's doing everything he can to make sure the winter wonderland is just right for Christmas.

"You're not going to stop Christmas," Juban says. "We're not going to let this set us back."

Mayor Bobby Font says the community has really rallied in support of the park. Some people even donated inflatable decorations from their own personal displays.

The vandals have not been caught yet. Mayor Font is offering a personal cash reward to anyone who has any information that can lead to an arrest in this matter.

Get in touch with him by calling (225) 665-4356 or shoot him an email at


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