Reward offered for gingerbread vandals
November 23, 2009
A former mayor of Bergen is among those offering NOK 100,000 for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for demolishing what was supposed to be the world’s largest
Pepperkakeby (Gingerbread City). Thousands of children had spent all day building it in downtown Bergen on Saturday, only to see it smashed by vandals during the night.When police arrived Sunday morning at Bergen’s town square known as Torgallmenningen , they were met with a sorry sight inside the pavilion housing the vast collection of 650 gingerbread houses.
The vandals had “smashed hundreds of wonderfully decorated gingerbread houses, emptied the contents of a fire extinguisher on others and sprayed paint all over,” Steinar Kristoffersen, head of merchants’ association Bergen Sentrum, told news bureau NTB.
Bergen Sentrum had sponsored the annual non-profit event that’s become a pre-Christmas tradition in the west coast Norwegian city. The goal this year was to create the world’s largest “ by” (“city”) made up of edible, decorated gingerbread houses.
Families and businesses all over town had baked and delivered the gingerbread Saturday morning, and the pepperkakeby had been assembled by around 2,000 children during the day in the tent-pavillion in the heart of town. On Sunday, many hearts were broken.
Coffee merchant and former Bergen Mayor Herman Friele is among those so angered by the vandalism that he’s contributing to the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals. Half of the money will go to charity and half to the person who points police in the right direction.
Police have launched a full investigation and were planning to scan film from security cameras mounted around the square. By midday Monday police had collected several tips. “We hope we track down those who did this,” Ragnar Lyssand of the Hordaland Police District told NTB. “People who do something like this can’t be called anything other than idiots.”
So angry were other Bergen residents that the local bishop cautioned against a “lynch mob” mentality. Other local businesses were making donations to finance the rebuilding of a new pepperkakeby . A Facebook support group, formed to Redd Pepperkakebyen (“Save the Gingergread City”), had nearly 11,000 members by late Monday morning.
Construction of a new gingerbread community was already underway Monday afternoon. Bergen residents started baking Sunday and were arriving with new gingerbread house walls and ceilings, ready to assemble for the second time. A local security firm offered to guard it around the clock.