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Volunteers restore Belton Mayor’s Christmas tree after vandals damaged it

BELTON, Mo. -- Holiday cheer is in the air in one Cass County city. However, it arrived after vandals ruined the city Christmas tree during the weekend, prompting locals to respond.

People around Belton have been talking about vandalism to the city Christmas tree, which was discovered on Saturday morning. Volunteers turned out on Wednesday to make the tree whole again.

The damage was a pre-Christmas surprise nobody asked for.

Volunteer workers gathered on Wednesday afternoon in Memorial Park in Belton, just four days after the Mayor's Christmas Tree was found in pieces. Those volunteers came to make the tree look holly and jolly again.

Workers smiled and sang as they worked, caroling holiday favorites such as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock" as they installed new lights and ornaments on the big green fir.

They worked alongside Kevin Feeback, Belton's maintenance supervisor, who said he stumbled upon the vandalized tree on Saturday during the city's Operation Santa event. He said he found the tree with its lights and ornaments broken and thrown to the ground.

"I looked up here, and I could tell the tree topper was missing," Feeback said. "(People around town) couldn't believe somebody would do that. We've had issues before, mainly just small stuff, ripping ornaments off, but nothing big like this."

The City of Belton celebrated the start of the holiday season in late November with a ceremonial lighting of the tree. Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the moment and pose photos with Santa Claus, not realizing the damage that would be done to the holiday decor.

City leaders told FOX4 there are no plans to pursue charges against the vandals, and so far, no one has been arrested.

"Obviously, it's a terrible disaster for most of our folks," Jeff Davis, Belton's mayor, told FOX4. "I had to come and see the extent of the damage and all that, and knowing the public would be disappointed because they take a lot of pride in this kind of stuff."

When the mayor's office put out a call for help on Facebook, volunteers from the community came out to redress the tree and to make it look like Christmas time in their city again.

The ornaments used during Wednesday's get-together were all donated by the public. According to a city spokesperson, the total cost to replace lights and ornaments would be more than $5,000.

"Deep down inside, if you're good, I think that's what you want to do. You want to jump in and help out. You feel bad for the community, and bad that someone took it upon themselves to do this, but it makes you feel good to be around people that are good," said Debbie Cole, a Belton native.

About 50 volunteers came to repair the mayor's Christmas tree. Davis said it's not important to concentrate on the damage that was done, but the community Christmas spirit is worthy of praise.

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