FARMINGDALE, New Jersey -- A beloved attraction created by a local artist in central New Jersey has been vandalized.
Over the past few years, Robin Ruggerio, of Brick Township, intricately constructed dinosaur sculptures in Allaire State Park in Monmouth County.
Now, most of them are heavily damaged.
"My friend had texted me and just asked me if I had cut them down? And I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Well, somebody did,'" recalled Ruggerio.
Ruggerio spent years building the dinosaurs out of sticks, string, shells and bones she found.
When WPVI-TV first profiled them, Ruggiero told us making those sculptures was her form of therapy.
But earlier this month, she said it was clear someone cut most of them down.
"Every vertical support line was cut on the T-Rex and over that way is the Stegosaurus," she said, pointing out the location of her once-standing dinosaurs.
Ruggerio was devastated and so were visitors.
"Robin did it for so many people and I felt bad the children won't get to see it anymore," said Karen Yochim of Brielle.
Ruggerio says eventually she'd love to be able to rebuild her sculptures, and plenty of people have offered to help.
"We are going to try to get them back up. It's sad, it's just a pile of rubble now," said Joseph Domingues of Marlboro, who frequently bikes through the wooded area.
"I became the leader of a Girl Scout troop and she helped us construct the bench over there," said Nikki DiNapoli of Brick Township. "Our next meeting is Monday and we're going to talk about maybe what we can do to help her."
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Caryn Shinske released the following statement:
"The State Park Service is saddened to see the damage to the wooden dinosaurs at Allaire State Park that occurred over the holiday weekend. There is no further information at this time about how the damage occurred. As this was a personal project conducted by a park visitor and not a Parks-commissioned amenity, the Department is not in a position to pursue further enforcement actions."
"I was in full-blown grieving, and over two days the outpouring of support was just overfilling my heart," said Ruggerio.