Reporting Mike Krauser
Updated: 12/20/10 4:54 p.m.
(WBBM/CBS) - A Hoffman Estates family is trying to find their Christmas spirit again after a mean prank destroyed a holiday display 24 years in the making.
“You can see the tire marks right here. It went directly over everything, destroying this here, all this is ruined,” said Jeff Michaels.
Jeff showed CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez the path of a car that jumped the curb outside his Hoffman Estates home, and mowed down the family holiday decorations.
For 24 years, the Michaels family has put a big Christmas display on the front lawn, adding to it each year.
There’s a manger and a train, a gingerbread house, lots of lights and, new this year, Snoopy.
“We had this train for years,” Jeff said. “They found this a block and a half down the street. The nativity scene right here is all in pieces, right over baby Jesus and all the way through.”
Sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning, someone drove right up on their lawn on the 400 block of Mohave Street and destroyed it all.
Michaels says it may have been a childish prank but it simply went too far. His normally joyful display is now an illustration of Christmas cruelty.
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Jeff’s wife, Joan Michaels, told Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser: “Christmas is done. We’re not doing it anymore. It’s very, very sad that somebody would want to do that. I look outside and I could still cry. They drove across the whole lawn. Everything is ruined.”
The incident is particularly upsetting to the Michaels’ children.
“Every year since I’ve been born I’ve been excited, even as a baby, about these Christmas decorations,” said 13-year-old Ryan Michaels.
His sister Brittany is just back from college.
“They put it up early so when I came home it’d be here,” said Brittany. “And when I came home I was so excited. I was happy and in the Christmas spirit.”
“I did it for them,” said Joan. “You see two kids upset. That’s not what Christmas is about. I don’t want to be upset, and we are, because this is something that we’ve had 24 years, piece by piece.”
But with tire tracks in the yard and a trail of mangled inflatables and other decorations, the family is admittedly having a tough time keeping their Christmas spirit.
“Whoever did this, I hope they have a nice Christmas, because they’ve ruined ours,” said Jeff.
Joan says they’re going to leave the damaged display all like it is.
“My husband, he just wants to make a statement,” she said.
A detective paid a visit to the house Monday.
The family is offering a reward for help finding the culprits, while the kids are trying to convince their parents to put the display back up.
“We’re not gonna back down, we’re gonna keep the Christmas spirit alive in this household,” said Ryan.
At this point, the family still has no idea who did this. No neighbors heard or saw anything. But they estimate replacing everything will cost about $2,000.