Robbie Anderson carried a plastic grocery bag as she surveyed the faded orange words still visible on the palmetto trees along Beaufort’s foggy waterfront Monday morning.
The city parks superintendent pulled cans of spray paint from the bag and held them against the bark, searching for the right match to cover graffiti left by a vandal Saturday night.
Someone painted symbols on the stone monuments marking Beaufort’s tricentennial celebration, sprayed words on the trees and vulgar images and words on the brick pavers in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. A city public works employee spent hours cleaning much of the paint Sunday.
Some of the most stubborn paint on the bricks required a trip to Lowe’s for Goof Off, scrubbing with a stiff brush and pressure washing. The plaques on the monuments still need to be washed and polished.
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The words “tree,” “rock” and “smile” were written in the orange paint on the trunks. Anderson planned to paint over them as she has with trees in other areas of the city.
Some of the paint couldn’t be scrubbed from the sea wall and a faded outline of some words remains on the tabby walkway. But the worst of the language was gone before children passed by on a school field trip Monday morning.
Police are investigating and don’t yet know whether the acts were caught on video, Sgt. Hope Able said.
City officials are assessing the damage and the final cost will depend on how much can be cleaned, said Linda Roper, director of downtown operations.
In addition to the spray paint, someone stole newly planted flowers from the park last week, Roper said.
As Anderson surveyed the remaining damage Monday, she pointed out the brown stems and leaves that marked the water line left from extensive flooding in September from Irma. A man on the other end of the park used a jackhammer and a chisel to repair stone benches the flood water had lifted away.
“We’re still cleaning up from Irma,” Anderson said.