A Gulfport family arrived home early Saturday morning to find out that once again their Christmas decorations had been torn up. This is the fourth year the Clute family has dealt with the problem, but they're determined to make the holiday lights shine in their front yard.
"For the last four years, we've done this, and every year, we make it more than what it is. This year, we made the largest display that we've ever made in the whole yard," said Bishop Thomas Ray Clute.
He, his wife and two teenage sons watched a holiday movie late Friday night to get into the Christmas spirit only to return to their home and find that most of their decorations in their yard had been maimed.
"My wife cried. It was very upsetting.I was hurt. I was upset. You work hard, you have to stake all these things down," he said.
Frosty had been deflated, and Santa had the wind knocked out of him, but one of Thomas Ray Clute's sons put Jolly Saint Nick back on his feet again. The family spent the day trying to bring life back to their vandalized decorations. This isn't the first time the family has dealt with this problem.
"We just deal with it every year. We deal with it, and when they do it. This is the only year they've gotten caught. But every year we deal with it. Last year, we had 12 tore up, the year before that nine, and our stuff turned over. It's very vulgar some of the things they do, with the stuff and write on it, but I just tell them, and we come back. We replace it all and make it look like it never happened," Clute said.
So far, one person, 21-year-old Robert Ingram of Gulfport, has been arrested in connection with this year's incident. He's charged with malicious mischief. Bishop Clute estimates about $1,000 worth of damage was done this go around...but he and his family are determined to set things straight and keep their holiday spirit.
"Of course I'm upset with it, but you forgive, and forget and move on," Clute said.
Clute's home is on Oak Forrest Drive. He says decorations at another house in the area were also damaged. The case is still under investigation.