It’s apparent someone is hurting and the consequence of their suffering has been taken out on a popular family-oriented park that has been a landmark in eastern PEI for many decades.
The list of people affected by those hurtful actions is lengthy. They are the people who have grown up with the familiar amenities of Kings Castle Provincial Park in Gladstone. They are second and even third generations of youngsters whose imaginations ignite the moment they step through the front gates.
The park’s warm and comfortable ambience is sustained by wholesome family principles. It promotes respect and appreciation for a facility that’s delightfully rural, inviting and offers memorable pockets of time for all ages. And admission is free.
But last week someone broke a trust - a confidence that something respected, cared for and shared by community would remain the same.
And since the spree of senseless vandalism, Kings Castle is no longer the same. One or more people used a heavy tool to extensively damage three of the enduring statues in the park. The inanimate victims included a larger-than-life rabbit just inside the front gate, the mom in the Three Bears children’s story and one of the Three Little Pigs.
The concrete structures are given the utmost care by park staff. Fresh coats of paint are frequently applied to the figures’ clothing and flesh, especially after harsh winters of sleet and snow leave them faded and frazzled in appearance.
The odds are pretty good the person/s responsible for the violation of this much coveted space is local.
But that’s just a guess.
Regardless of their address they may very well have frequented the park as a child and enjoyed its many features.
But something went wrong. Terribly wrong. And now they are lashing out - perhaps in need of attention; perhaps it’s a plea for help because they are in a situation that has escalated beyond their control.
Simple logic dictates there are both mental and emotional factors that contribute to such irrational behaviour.
And as the community processes the violation of their cherished space, park officer Darlene Cuddy is taking a pro-active approach to the crime.
She is overwhelmed with an outpouring of support and caring from the community and beyond. Area resident Leon Murphy, from Sturgeon, has even stepped forward to make the necessary repairs.
Cuddy is as much about family as the folks who frequent the park for birthday parties, school day-trips, or just an afternoon of spirited kids enjoying the open space to run and play.
The unpleasant scenario isn’t unfamiliar to communities elsewhere on PEI.
But as much as we depend on the police to capture the wrongdoers we seldom learn the reason why such a crime was committed. It’s easy to blame drugs or alcohol as motivators but perhaps it’s more than that.
When a member of society is hurting and lashes out with such purposeless violence, that hurt is far-reaching. It’s not just the concrete statues that are damaged, it’s our institution of goodwill in our community that is tarnished too.
And when those guilty of this pointless act of violence are caught what should the consequences be? Without question part of the punishment package should include a sentence of a return visit to Kings Castle to do something hands-on to make the property even better for everyone.
Heather Moore is editor of The Eastern Graphic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org