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December 5, 2012

Vandals smash museum garden statues, lighting

Nine-year-old donates pottery lamb

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

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Vandals smash museum garden statues, lighting
Nicole Bernstein has donated an animal statue to the recently vandalized Rochester Hills Museum Children’s Garden. Museum Supervisor Pat McKay accepted the donation.

ROCHESTER HILLS — When 9-year-old Nicole Bernstein first heard the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm Children’s Garden had been vandalized, she wanted to help.

“We go there a lot in the summer,” Nicole, who lives two blocks from the museum, said. “My favorite part is the statues. My friends and I pretend they are real.” The fourth-grader at Hugger Elementary School donated a new pottery lamb with $40 of her own money to replace one of the garden’s smashed statues.

Museum employees found destruction in the Children’s Garden on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 22. “We had vandalism the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving,” said Pat McKay, museum supervisor. “They smashed all our pottery, two lamb statues were destroyed.”

Lighting fixtures at the museum Dairy Barn were also smashed and the garden footbridge railing was broken. McKay said damage is estimated at $1,000. Volunteers had created detail work on the footbridge railing that is “difficult to repair when broken,” McKay said.

A few days after the vandalism incident, Nicole heard about the damage from her parents, when they returned home from a walk through the museum garden. “She was so taken by the destruction, she came up with her own money and donated a pottery lamb,” McKay said. “She will come back in the spring and we will unveil it. She wanted to make sure kids had a chance to enjoy the garden. She is a young girl who wanted to make a difference.”

Nicole’s teachers and principal at Hugger Elementary support her effort. “We are all very proud of her here,” Hugger Principal Donald Maskill said.

The museum’s Children’s Garden was created and is maintained by members of the Rochester Garden Club. The garden is open daily to visitors, free of charge, and is located next to the Museum Dairy Barn at 1005 Van Hoosen Road in Rochester Hills.

Garden features include sensory, vegetable, ABC, pizza and butterfly gardens, along with an old fashioned school house, a yellow brick road, a bridge with Billy goats, Humpty Dumpty and his wall, a windmill and bird houses.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” McKay said about the vandalism. “It had to have happened late at night; it never happened before. You can’t prepare for it. It is a park setting, and we make it available to everybody. Now, we’ll step up patrols. We’ll sweep up the pieces and move on.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.