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Vandals target Kiwanis Kiddieland

A 50-year-old amusement park and traditional gathering placed for families has once again been targeted by vandals — barely one week before its slated to open to crowds of enthusiastic children.

Operators of Kiwanis Kiddieland, an amusement park in Applegate Park, say someone broke inside the facility sometime Friday night. The perpetrators wrote graffiti messages in large black permanent marker. They left almost no part of the park untouched, leaving graffiti on walls, rides and widows, said John Sykes, a member of the Greater Merced Kiwanis Club who volunteers at the park as a maintenance supervisor. “(The vandals) had to be here for a good length of time,” Sykes said. “They came in and wrote graffiti all over this whole place.”

In addition, Merced police said the following night someone burglarized the park’s office, breaking a window in the process. Police do not have any suspects in custody for either crime, according to Merced Police Lt. Bimley West.

The damage to the 2525 O Street park was a staggering blow to volunteers who have spent days preparing the park for its reopening, which occurs 1 p.m. this Saturday. Although none of the equipment inside the office was damaged, West said the burglars stole one of the Lexan windows from the building.

It’s not the first time Kiddieland has been targeted by vandals. Last year, vandals damaged several rockets on one of the park’s rides, in addition to splattering eggs all over the complex.

Sykes, along with Merced Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen and three Merced High School Key Club members, spent several hours Saturday painting over the graffiti. Sykes said the vandals caused about $2,000 in damage, which includes another window that was previously shot with a BB gun during a separate incident.

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