By Catharin Shepard
Someone earned a spot both on Santa’s naughty list and the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office wanted list by stealing all the extension cords from the Hoke County Christmas Lights in the Park exhibit. In all, $2,600 worth of equipment was taken.
More than 20 extension cords went missing early Saturday from the Hoke County Recreation Complex, which had been set up as a winter wonderland for families to visit Santa and a living Nativity scene.
The event had to shut down two days early because it couldn’t operate without the cords.
“We weren’t able to hold the events on Saturday and Sunday, the last days,” Parks and Recreation Director Kendrick Maynor said. “That really put us in a setback. We were looking for a great attendance.”
The Parks and Recreation Department paid for most of the decorations and equipment used at the park and borrowed the rest of the lights from various places including from donors and other county departments. Most of the stolen extension cords belonged to the county, but others were donated.
Everything was fine when the park shut down and locked up for the night Friday, Parks and Recreation officials said, but sometime between the park’s opening at 6 a.m. Saturday and early afternoon when the workers arrived to set up, all of the extension cords disappeared.
The cords were 40-foot and 100-foot heavy-duty drop cords used to connect the lights to the generator, Parks and Recreation Athletic Director Pat Shouse said.
Maynor and his staff worked for days getting the light display in place before the grand opening. Many of them dressed up in costumes to greet children as they came through the park.
The department had hoped to make back the invested money and continue presenting the Christmas Lights in the Park every year. Without a way to turn on the lights, the staff had to shut down early this year.
“We closed the park. We were unable to open because we didn’t have the cords,” Shouse said.
The theft was reported to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office.