INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (KMSP) - For twenty-one years, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota couple Rodney and Nancy Brown have welcomed as many as 15,000 people to their yard each December to see their holiday decorations. Over the years, they’ve had very few problems.
“We lost a baby Jesus once, and Tasmanian devil was taken once," says Nancy. “But, that's been it for 21 years.”
Dressed in her Mrs. Claus dress, along side her husband dressed as Santa, the Browns found themselves calling police after noticing several toy soldiers were no longer standing at attention.
“They looked like they had been kicked pretty hard because they are screwed into wood. One of the trains was broke, angel down on the grounds,” says Brown.
Thankful to the officer taking the report for helping put a few of the pieces back into place, the Browns say the good news is the damage is not permanent. But, they say knowing vandals came through leaves a sting worse than the cold.
“Why would you hurt something so many people find pleasure in?" Nancy said.
Many in the area are well aware preparation for this annual display starts on Labor Day weekend and has cost the couple thousands of dollars. Social media lit up like a Christmas tree as word of the vandalism spread. A stranger even started a Go Fund Me page to try and help.
“We appreciate it so much, we would hate to see it disappear,” says the Brown's neighbor, Andrew Leroy. “We know they are getting older and it's kind of on the edge of whether they are going to do it every year. Hopefully. this won't deter them from doing it anymore. I guess there are knuckleheads everywhere.”
Nancy says at Santa's house they don't count the lights, instead they count the smiles and that motto isn't changing.
“I guess what I have to do is remember about those 99 percent of people that come and forget about the one or two jerks that did the damage," Nancy said.
The Browns do have surveillance cameras. They are in the process of reviewing those cameras to see if they captured the Grinch in the act.