Celebration Tree Grove. (Photo from Mike Schmitt)

Celebration Tree Grove is a peaceful pocket just off the east White Rock Lake Trail, where a thin, cement-edged cinder walking path veers into a green meadow marked with a mix of young and old trees.

At its center, a stone structure bears metal plates with names and memoriam messages. It’s a point of pride for founding organization, For The Love of The Lake, which began building the area in 2005 as a way for donors to honor groups, graduates or special occasions and remember family, friends and pets who have loved White Rock Lake while funding the reforestation of White Rock Lake Park. Essentially, the cost of a plaque is one tree.

Sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to a police report, one or more hoodlums ripped a number of plaques from the memorial.

A portion of the memorial from which plaques were stolen. (Photo from Mike Schmitt)

Michael Schmitt, who reported the theft/ vandalism shared with members of a White Rock Lake Facebook group that “someone took 33 of the plaques off of the monument, possibly to sell for scrap metal or maybe just vandalism. I talked to a scrap yard and they said no metal dealer would buy them as they were obviously stolen,” he wrote.

“These plaques are donated by people to honor, celebrate or remember a loved one,” he continues. “The money from the donations goes toward planting and maintaining the trees at White Rock Lake. It was a horrible, cowardly act and I hope karma catches up with these people as I know it will. The plaques will be replaced at a cost of about $6,500. Money that could have been spent taking care of the trees.”

Vandalism at White Rock Lake is not unusual, but this is a particularly personal crime to many lake area residents, some of whom commented that their loved ones’ plaques were among the casualties.

We have contacted representatives of the Tree Grove and will keep readers posted regarding plans to replace the missing plates.

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