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Vandalism feared at Angel of Hope

This heavy, granite memorial slab was tipped over and broken at the Angel of Hope Park in Perham last weekend.

A cracked and broken piece of granite, serving as a memorial to lost loved ones, was a sad discovery for all who have been connected to the "Angel of Hope Park" in Perham.

Was it weather-related, or was it vandals?

While the storm that hit Perham Friday night, midway through the summer Turtle Fest parade, packed violent winds indeed--it is hard to imagine that Mother Nature would have toppled the granite slab---weighing 1,125 pounds.

"I can only pray it is weather-related. If it is not the wind causing the damage, I can only believe that someone deliberately vandalized the wall," said Kathy Johnson, who was part of a dedicated group that spearheaded the "Angel of Hope" campaign over the past four years.

It is uncertain when the incident occurred, but the Perham Police Department had received three calls by Sunday.

The Angel of Hope Park, located on the northeast side of Perham, was established by an extensive fundraising campaign. The granite slabs list names of children who have died, and the centerpiece of the park is the "Angel of Hope" statue itself.

That particular wall had twenty-six names on the front and back, noted Johnson, who lost her son Dana in 1991--which inspired her to help lead the Angel of Hope campaign.

The wall cost about $4,500, and engraving for the names about $1,300, according to Johnson.

The city's park and recreation insurance may cover most of the damages, said Johnson, but the money won't ease the pain of speculation that the incident was simple, random vandalism.

"I choke back tears as I write this, as the park is a peaceful place for us to visit and reflect on the lives of children we have lost," stated Johnson. "I pray that anyone who has any information, to please contact our local police department."