The Magic Tree is still creating joy, even though vandals tried to put out its glow.
Earlier this week – on Monday, the tree’s owner thinks – a vandal cut power cords and wires for the tree lights, and damaged part of the tree, too. The tree, at the northeast corner of Interstate 470 and View High Drive in Lee’s Summit, was lit by the property owner as a community service.
Most of the lights were restored Monday night.
In an interview Wednesday, the owner said he had gotten a call about 5 p.m. Monday that the tree had gone dark. His first thought was that the wiring had shorted. But he determined that someone wielding an ax-like implement had chopped through four power cords carrying electricity to the strands of lights. The tree also had some vandalism last year.
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“It’s pretty sad,” said the property owner, who asked not to be named. “While I was there, it took me four hours to get it up and running. You get a sick feeling in the stomach. What person thinks this is funny?”
Initially, while about 25 people were watching him in the dark, the owner tried to fix the tree himself by plugging in new connections for the lights. Later, the cut power lines at the bottom of the tree were discovered.
The owner said it angers him that the vandalism endangered him, a volunteer and the technician as they worked around the live wires.
The damage, about $1,000, was reported to police, said Sgt. Chris Depue, Lee’s Summit police spokesman. The department has no suspects, he said, and anyone with information is asked to call the police department’s tip line at 816-969-1752 or 816-474-TIPS.
The owner said he doesn’t think most people can tell there was any damage, although a few of the light strands couldn’t be fixed.
The tree, now in its second year, has been growing in popularity. One person reported on the tree’s Facebook page about watching 50 to 75 people come and go during a recent visit.
That person lamented. however, that more people weren’t donating food items, as requested, for a Lee’s Summit food pantry. The visitor had seen only a couple of canned items in the white barrel that was placed on the property for donations.
The barrel might not be full all the time, but that’s because it’s regularly emptied to prevent canned goods from freezing. Matt Sanning, assistant director of Lee’s Summit Social Services, said the agency has been getting good support through donations from the site.
Soon after the damage was announced, the owner said, the website quickly had about 40 posts decrying the vandalism.
There also had been a few negative reactions to publicity about the tree. One teenager had tweeted that she wanted to cut it down.
The owner said he will keep the tree shining, and he hopes the culprit is caught and prosecuted. He said he considers the vandalism as lashing out at the community.
“There are people talking about it being ‘our Christmas tree’ or Lee’s Summit’s tree, and I love that,” said the man, who said he’s asking for anonymity because he’s providing the tree for people to enjoy, not for notoriety.