Oxen Vandalism in the Eyes of a Child

    For many locals, we’ve either seen in person the actual damage to our oxen or read about it (if not, I’ve included the facts below).

    I say “OUR OXEN” because this project has grown from the dedication of our neighbors and friends in organizing and supporting this movement. This project was made possible with the artistic skill and intense efforts of our local artists, also our neighbors and friends. As a community, we have experienced a shared delight watching the vibrant oxen floating by on flatbed trucks. We’ve seen them appearing mysteriously throughout Hopewell Valley. We each feel like we’ve actually discovered something new when we spot one we hadn’t before. And — spoiler alert — that delight does not happen much in adulthood.

    Meanwhile, literally squealed with total joy when I saw this:


    So we’re all caught up, Hopewell Township Police announced this:

    “Three separate incidents of vandalism and/or theft of fiberglass oxen on display throughout Hopewell Valley were reported to the police between August 7th and August 18th. The first incident occurred on August 7th, when someone poured orange paint over an ox on display in front of the Pennington Market. The next incident occurred on or after August 15th, when someone stole an ox from its displayed location on Elm Ridge Road and later returned it with a foot broken off of it. Damage was estimated at $500.00. The most recent incident was sometime overnight on August 17th, when an ox on display near Denow Road and Van Brunt Road was knocked over.

    Anyone with information on these incidents in asked to contact the police department at 609-737-3100.”

    I thought about not telling my (nearly) 6 year old daughter because the vandalism hurt my sense of wonder, but then I thought: This is a teaching moment.

    My daughter immediately launched into possible solutions on how to protect the oxen. To her credit (or as further evidence of the true innocence of children), she didn’t ask why someone would do that. She didn’t look at how dark someone has to be to destroy someone else’s art and the community’s appreciation of it. She went right to the solution. And I thought I would share it with you.

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