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UPDATED: Village, Residents Say Chalk Graffiti on Historic Building During Dickens Festival Was Vandalism

Residents and mayor say act was idea of one parent that got out of control.

What appeared to be a fun children’s activity at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame building during the Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson ended up being an unsanctioned act of vandalism, according to officials and a resident who brought up the issue at the village board of trustees meeting on Monday night.

In an email to Patch, resident Sandra Swenk said that the chalk graffiti on the former Brookhaven Town Tax Receiver’s Building was the work of "an aggressive parent" and not on the schedule.

"It was totally disrespectful and uncalled for," said Swenk.

People visiting the village thought that boxes of chalk left on the steps and the window sills of the building were meant for writing messages on the brick walls, some wishing people a Merry Christmas and others making proclamations about Scrooge. During the event, parents and children said that the promoters offered the chalk for the activity. Apparently that was not the case.

The whole idea came from one parent and according to Garant it "took off like wild fire." The identity of the parent has not been revealed.

The mayor was not happy when she first came upon the chalk scribbling that by the time she saw it took up the entire façade of the building on Main Street and East Main Street.

"Before you knew it the entire building was covered," she said calling the idea "innocent and creative but not what we planned at all or how we treat our very special historic and landmark buildings."

Swenk was also unhappy.

"The building was patiently restored several years ago by the Town since it owns the building (circa 1900)," she said calling the exterior fragile. "This act that was supported by a parent and obviously others in the area with their children was inappropriate with no concern for an historic building in our village."

Jim Faith, chairman of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame's board of directors, said that he did not know about the chalk graffiti before it started.

"I would have never allowed anyone to deface our building or especially our full window banners," he said to Patch in an email.

Faith said the event at the building was shared between his organization and the Greater Port Jefferson Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

"Obviously this was not related to music history," he said.

He added that it was probably thought of as a fun idea that went awry and when Hall of Fame officials noticed it, Faith says they tried to put a stop to it.

"When we realized that it was happening, our secretary Jill Nees went outside and removed whatever chalk was still there, and stopped the 'chalking' of the building," Faith said.

The parent who started the graffiti is "deeply sorry" according to Garant and the village is cleaning the chalk off the exterior of the building.

"We are scrubbing her as we speak," she said.

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justme December 08, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Really? How would you feel if someone did that to your house? Parents should be teaching their kids to respect our historic buildings and other people's property. Teaching kids at such a young age that it's okay to "go with the crowd" will prove to be a very bad lesson! Who knows why the chalk was there, but it wasn't "supplied by the LMHOF" or there for that purpose.
justme December 08, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Why would anyone assume that boxes of chalk on steps and window sills of buildings were meant for writing messages on brick walls? Some parent behaved badly and encouraged the group to do something wrong and instead of apologizing for it somehow you defend it? How about teaching the kids involved to do the right thing and aid in the cleanup and issue an apology to the LIMHOF?
justme December 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Why don't the great many adults and children who enjoyed the afternoon come back and clean up or contribute to a fund for the cleanup the building for the LIMHOF? The "aggressive parent" who lead the vandalism can organize that too!
justme December 08, 2012 at 01:19 PM
So in the spirit of Christmas cheer go back and clean it up?
William Hadley December 08, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The parent in question was obviously the one who ran the event at that location, she was even interviewed by News12. I believe she goes under the guise of "Village Spokesperson"

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