A Christmas-time crime forgiven

Mladen Rudman
Pictured above is the Nativity scene at the Carroll-Hawbaker home before it was vandalized the night of Dec. 11-12 and after.

An act of vandalism with crude overtones has done nothing to spoil the Christmas spirit at an Indian Bayou home.

Barbi Carroll-Hawbaker bears no grudge.

Instead, the local business owner and co-founder, along with her husband John, of the Mission Love Seeds charity offers understanding and forgiveness.

She believes the suspects were youngsters, who were just fooling around when they vandalized the couple’s front-lawn Christmas decorations. They knocked down pieces of the Nativity scene and repositioned a brightly lit reindeer on top of Santa Claus, which could have been interpreted as sexually suggestive.

“We love Christmas and we understand kids will be kids,” said Carroll-Hawbaker. “I’m sure the kids had a good time and I’m sure the next day they had regrets.”

Yes, the couple was a little shaken by the incident and yes, the incident was reported to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, but, mostly, Barbi and John wanted to alert other homeowners in the area that there have been problems.

“It was sad,” said Carroll-Hawbaker. “We worked so hard to make a beautiful display.”

The crime happened during the night of Dec. 11 or early morning of Dec. 12. The wrong was righted and their decorations survived Wednesday and Thursday night unscathed.

The Carroll-Hawbaker home was one of at least two residences in the 50 block of Country Club Drive E hit by the vandals that night.

She suspected it was the same group of people because of the timing and technique, Christmas decorations repositioned to mimic intimate acts.

The deputy who responded to the Carroll-Hawbaker home to note the incident characterized it as criminal mischief because there was some damage to the decorations.