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Pleasant Grove community comes together after Strawberry Days light display ruined

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 00:36:13-04

The town of Pleasant Grove is coming together after someone messed with a mountainside light display meant to celebrate Strawberry Days.

Normally, families would be looking forward to the Strawberry Days carnival, parade and rodeo right now. However, like most events this year, those were a no go because of COVID-19.

"It got canceled, everybody was pretty upset-- the carnival that we go to every year," said Pleasant Grove resident Crystal Schroeder.

The only saving grace for Crystal and her four sons-- a gigantic strawberry created with red and green solar lights on the hillside. She has a perfect view of it from her back deck, and she's enjoyed looking at it every night.

"It's 500 feet tall, so you can't miss it," she said. "Everybody in the community loves it and talks about it."

She explained it's helping people remember that Strawberry Days is still happening, even if it means smaller family or neighborhood gatherings.

"It brought a little bit of joy to everybody, so it was really nice to have up there," Crystal said.

It brought joy, until a couple of days ago when Crystal noticed parts of the strawberry weren't lit up.

The community began talking about that, too. She saw a post in the neighborhood Ring app that the strawberry had been vandalized.

"We were at Costco yesterday, and a woman came up and said 'Did you see what happened to the strawberry on the hill?'" Crystal recounted.

Through the Ring app, Crystal connected with the light display's creator, David Hartle.

"A lot of the lights were moved, some were broken, and just the whole, pretty much, top half of the design was out of place," David explained, of the damage done to the display.

He loves to come up with his hillside light creations. He talked about how they are his art, and the mountain is his canvas.

David started putting the solar lights up a couple of years ago, with different shapes for the seasons.

"It is a tradition," he said. "And it's been really fun for me and my family to do."

This is the first year David staked the lights into the shape of a strawberry, a sweet gesture to boost community spirits during a difficult time.

He said he was sad after finding someone had messed with it, and guessed it was likely people who thought they were having fun and pulling a prank.

"It took three days and so many hours of work," David said. "And then I thought, 'I don't know if I can put this back together, I don't know if I have the lights.'"

As word of the sour situation spread, community members quickly pooled money together.

"I thought, 'Well, we can get them replaced,'" Crystal said. "'Everybody wants to pitch in, I'm sure.'"

She started a fundraiser and collected enough money in just a couple of hours to replace the lights.

David and his daughter and son trekked back up the steep terrain and spent four hours making the strawberry whole again.

"Warmed my heart to think that, how quickly everybody reacted, to it get back up there," he said.

Now, the strawberry is shining bright once again. And for Crystal-- it's a reminder that even if our favorite events are canceled this year, there are still ways to come together as family, neighbors and as a community.

"At least we can look at the strawberry, and remember that," Crystal said. "We do have something to celebrate."