Video reveals children vandalized beloved statues

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Surveillance video recorded outside Ulele restaurant and released Tuesday shows a group of very young vandals destroying a beloved fairy tale figurine.

The video, provided to FOX 13 by Ulele owner Richard Gonzmart, shows two children rough-housing with a statue of one of the Three Little Pigs.

Eventually, the two kids move on and a third, younger child begins to play with the figurine. The statue then topples over, nearly hitting the little girl.

"It just saddens me to see children not respecting it and trying to knock it over," said Gonzmart, a Tampa restaurateur who is the president of the Columbia Restaurant Group. "What scared me -- when you see a young girl, probably five-years-old, she grabbed hold of the pig by its hands, pulled it and it fell forward and it weighs over 100 pounds. If it had landed on her, what might have happened?" 

The Three Little Pigs statues, along with depictions of Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Blind Mice, are part of a small play area outside the restaurant into which Gonzmart has invested about $100,000.

Roughly 60 years ago, the figurines were part of Fairyland at Lowry Park. After the park closed, the city-owned characters fell into decay until Gonzmart bought them at auction in January.

"It's all about trying to teach history and encourage children to want to learn, to want to read," he told FOX 13 Tuesday. "When we built this park it was all based on my childhood, my grandfather and parents taking me to Fairyland, taking me to Plant Park, where I used to want to go see the bronze dogs."

Gonzmart said, as he watched the surveillance video, he wondered where were the children's parents. Adults can be seen running away with the kids after the statue fell down.

"What I hope is that people will just realize and respect these pieces that so many people that call Tampa home, they cherish those memories," Gonzmart said, adding he's not hoping for any charges. "I don't want to prosecute. People say I have to prosecute. I think we want to teach these children that you have to respect this."

Jason Hulfish, the artist who initially restored the figures, said he will repair the broken one for free.

"We will do the job, I will get it done," said Hulfish. "Fret not, the pigs will stand again."