Today we talk with Bobette and Wade Riggs of Redding about an act of vandalism that nearly ruined their holiday.
Q: Wade and Bobette Riggs, welcome to A News Cafe.com, and thanks for telling us your holiday story; one that went from good to bad to good again. But first, can you please tell readers who don't know you a bit about yourselves?
BOBETTE: Wade and I are business owners and proud parents to our beautiful children.
When our work scheduling permits, our hobbies include traveling, and making sure to do something fun with the kids every week, like movie night, bowling etc.
During the summer we love taking the kids on the lake. We love our family, and family always takes first priority in our lives. We also own Riggs Media Consulting.
Q: So partly because of your work, you're into lights, sound and display. And you bring those skills to your annual Christmas decorations. Can you describe your holiday displays, how they've evolved over the years, and what they were like this year?
WADE: Well, I was never much into decorating at Christmas, but Bobette has always loved Christmastime since she was little, and said, "How can you not decorate?"
So, we started off small; roof lights, some displays in the yard, things like that.
Now, thanks to Bobette, I absolutely love putting up the displays, and she has definitely created a 'Christmas light display monster.' We had just added Rudolph and Clarice this year. We have Christmas music and videos that I have projecting from the garage onto our window. It truly is a lot of fun.
Our family also dresses up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, with elves. We hand out candy canes to children and adults.
Q: I didn't get a chance to see your decorations in person this year, but I saw them on Facebook, and they were pretty impressive. It's obviously a big investment of not just money, but time, right?
BOBETTE: Yes. We start getting ready right after Halloween. It's always a tradition in our family to flip the switch on Thanksgiving. We have invested thousands of dollars in these decorations.
Rudolph and Clarice were around $1,000 for the both of them. We like to add a new and unique piece every year that you can't get here in Redding. It's all about bringing magic to the holiday season.
Q: Before we go on, let me just educate those who might be unfamiliar with the Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer story. Clarice is Rudolph's girlfriend. OK, moving along ... So this year was a particularly awesome display, until recently. What happened?
WADE: It was Wednesday, December 28. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and had noticed that Rudolph and Clarice were deflated. So, I took a closer look at them and had noticed the rips in both of them. I have surveillance system installed and looked at it. At 4:57 a.m. someone came up with a knife and sliced both of them and took off.
I woke up Bobette and told her that someone just knifed our displays. This was very emotional for both of us. She was crying, and I was angry. We could not understand how or why someone would want to be so cruel as to do something like that.
Our son Shayne, who's 11, autistic, and so innocent, asked Bobette, "Why did a bad person be mean to Rudolph?"
That was heartbreaking to us. I wanted to take the displays down, but Bobette said, "NO! The displays are not coming down, we are keeping them up. The person that did this was not going to destroy our spirit of Christmas, or to take that away from the people in our community."
Q: Oh, man. I am so sorry! What an awful thing to happen. Wade, I saw where you posted the story about the vandalism on Facebook, but that's when something happened to turn things around for you, right?
WADE: The people in our community were appalled that something like this had happened. They were posting pictures of their children in front of the displays, because it had brought them such joy for the holidays. People were offering to help repair them. It was quite an outpouring of love from the community.
Heather, the store manager at West Marine, gave Bobette four packages of repair kits at no charge, because she couldn't believe someone could be so full of hatred as to do something like that. We repaired Rudolph and Clarice and had them back up Wednesday night. Cars are still coming by full of children and adults and taking pictures.
We just wanted to let the person who did this to know this: "You didn't win, and you didn't destroy Christmas for us and for others."
Q: What a good message for not just the vandal, but your own kids, too.
You know, the north state is known for being extremely giving, so I'm not surprised. But what's your take-away from this experience?
BOBETTE: Our take-away is that a community came together to help our family. We do this every year for the community, and their families and our own family, because it brings joy and happiness into their lives, and keeps the Christmas spirit alive here in Redding.
We are so very blessed that we have such wonderful, caring people in our community.
Q: Beautifully put. Now, I have to ask: Any leads on the vandals?
WADE: No leads unfortunately, because it was too dark.
Q: I'm sorry to hear that.
Thanks so much, Wade and Bobette, for sharing your story, but also for all you and your family do to bring joy to our community.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
BOBETTE: Thank you, again, to our community, and to Heather at West Marine for bringing happiness and smiles back to the faces of children, adults, and to our own family's faces. We love happy endings.