Toy soldiers vandalized, stolen in Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor Main Street Association’s new holiday tradition attracts a grinch

There’s a grinch in Oak Harbor who’s apparently attempting to steal some of the city’s Christmas spirit.

Four of the 26 wooden toy soldiers on display along Pioneer Way were stolen and four more vandalized over the weekend.

The 4-foot toy soldiers, painted and decorated by businesses and members of the community, were recently set out along the street as part of a new tradition promoted by the Oak Harbor Main Street Association.

Melissa Riker, executive director of Oak Harbor Main Street, said the incidences took place between 6:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. She filed a report with the Oak Harbor Police Department, then spent a rainy Saturday, picking up the soldiers and reattaching them to posts to get them upright again.

“I know it seems like a simple Christmas decoration but these toy soldiers were symbolic,” Riker wrote in an email. “This was a great way to get community involvement, decorate the downtown with Christmas spirit, and a great project the Oak Harbor Main Street was really proud of.”

The Main Street group rallied to replace the four stolen toy soldiers, but it is still interested in recovering those that were taken, with no questions asked.

Riker said they can be returned anonymously outside the door of the Main Street office at 830 S.E. Pioneer Way, suite 103.

The missing toy soldiers are painted in various decor. One resembles a Seahawk, another is decked out in pink camouflage. One is a traditional red, white and black painted toy soldier. The final missing soldier is decorated with purple glitter.

Capt. Terri Gardner with the Oak Harbor Police Department said the matter “is still under investigation” and that there was no other malicious mischief reported downtown during that time frame.

She said photos of three of the missing toy soldiers are posted on the police department’s Facebook page.

In an attempt to start a tradition similar to Coupeville’s cutout snow people, a total of 34 toy soldiers were created and “put up for adoption” by Oak Harbor Main Street for individuals or businesses to purchase for $15.

The blank soldiers were painted and decorated and returned for public display. Each was numbered so the public could vote on their favorite ones.

“These toy soldiers are so beautiful!” Riker wrote. “We have such great talent in our community. It’s sad to know some grinch would try to ruin it. But it’s not going to!”

“We have the four toy soldiers back up and we are hopeful the other four will be returned safe and sound.”