Yobs damage Sunderland Illuminations figures just days after attraction opens

Damage to an alien sculpture at Sunderland Illuminations.
Damage to an alien sculpture at Sunderland Illuminations.
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Sculptures at Sunderland’s Illuminations show have been damaged by yobs just hours after the attraction was opened to the public.

Thousands of people visited the big switch-on of the illuminations in Roker Park, Cliffe Park and the city’s seafront on Saturday night.

Damage to a dinosaur model at Sunderland Illuminations.

Damage to a dinosaur model at Sunderland Illuminations.

But vandals have already tried their best to ruin the fun, causing damage costing £1,000 in the process.

In Roker Park, one alien figure has been stolen and another has had its left arm ripped off, while trouble makers have also damaged several dinosaur sculptures.

The spectacular pirate-themed display was switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Alan Emerson, who was joined by Sunderland AFC legends Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery.

Coun John Kelly, portfolio holder for culture at the city council, said: “Saturday’s opening of the 2016 Sunderland Illuminations went exceedingly well and we’ve had some very positive feedback.

Damage to Sunderland Illuminations.

Damage to Sunderland Illuminations.

“Sadly, also overnight on Saturday, vandals damaged some of the illuminations in Roker Park and this damage is estimated at about £1,000.

“The damage includes an alien with a missing arm, and several of our dinosaurs were attacked.

“While this is only minor damage, and doesn’t detract from the many other attractions at the park, it is saddening how the actions of a minority of people, or an individual, are spoiling the fun and enjoyment of others.

“I am also sorry to report that one of our aliens is missing.

Damage to Sunderland Illuminations.

Damage to Sunderland Illuminations.

“We don’t know if this alien might have been abducted but the alien is about 6ft tall, of a thin to medium build, and has green coloured skin.

“While we have had reports of strange night-time lights in the Roker and Seaburn areas recently, we think these are connected to the Sunderland Illuminations and not to the missing alien.”

Paralympic swimming gold medallist Matt Wylie, fresh from success in the games in Rio, was amongst those present for the switch-on.

Last year, more than 300,000 people visited the illuminations, which runs until November 5.

Sunderland Illuminations 2016 - Spark Drummers.

Sunderland Illuminations 2016 - Spark Drummers.

Fulwell councillor George Howe hit out at those responsible, saying: “It’s disappointing that people would choose to do this and also for the inhabitants of the area.

“But I think it would be better if the council re-considered not locking the park gates at night as that doesn’t help at all.”

Lights at the event will be switched on from 5pm to 10pm every night.

Entry into Roker Park is £1 per person but entry is free for children aged under two.