Santa and reindeer stolen from roof of local restaurant across from the police dept.
Local eatery has Santa and reindeer stolen from roof. This is copied from the Watauga newspaper website. Mountain House Owner Livid Over Theft
12/17/2004 By Jerry Sena
‘Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...
But up on the roof, dastardly deeds were afoot.
And Betty Austin has issued a warning to the thieves who crept onto the roof of her Mountain House restaurant sometime last Monday night to steal off with Santa’s sleigh and three tiny reindeer: Next year she’ll have even more Christmas decorations in place. And somewhere among the holly and the ivy and the bright twinkling lights, she’ll be there, heavily armed and waiting.
“I want them to know I’m going to be up there with my shotgun next year,” Austin proclaimed, her eyes flashing and fists clenching.
She can’t bring herself to understand what brand of person could do such a thing in this, the season of giving. Austin looks sadly at her half-eaten lunch, slumps her shoulders and sighs.
“I can’t tell you what I really think,” she said with a mischievous glance. “You couldn’t print it in the paper.
“It’s just sad that a person can’t have anything like that without these people coming along and ruining it,” she laments.
Austin has traveled the distance between anger and acceptance a hundred times since powering up her elaborate display of colorful lights, and seasonal figures Tuesday morning and noticing something, well, different.
“I said, ‘Hey, something looks awfully funny.’ Then I realized the...had taken the sleigh and reindeer.”
Austin didn’t quite conjure up words adequate to describe the people who departed with a portion of her proud display. So, at the point where she might say “thieves,” or “scoundrels,” or “rats,” she can only clench her teeth and affect a disgusted shiver.
“I guess they just needed it more than I did,” she says in a half-hearted attempt at existential comprehension.
“It’s just sad that the world’s in such sad shape. I just wonder what they could be feeling, doing something like that, and this season meaning what it does. Seems that nothing means nothing to nobody anymore. People don’t have no morals or nothing anymore. I just don’t know. I just don’t know.”
Austin has owned the Mountain House for 19 of its 32 years as a Boone institution of home style service and old-fashioned southern fare.
For 31 of those years it sat at the south end of town on Blowing Rock Road across from Deerfield Drive.
A new Walgreens is under construction on the old site. The present Mountain House is a mile or so further on down the road.
Ironically, the Boone Police Department is just across the street. The thieves were either unaware that the long arm of the law was close enough to tap them on the shoulder, or bold enough to pull off the job just the same.
Austin scoffs at the thought of filing a complaint with the police.
“That won’t do no good,” she says with a quick wave of a hand and roll of the eyes. “They’re gone. I’m not going to get them back. And what are (the police) going to do about it? They’re sitting right across the street and couldn’t stop (the thieves). What are they going do now?”
Austin was celebrating her first Christmas in the new locale and could hardly wait to get the display in place.
“It’s been up since about the first of November,” she said. “Took us a good three weeks to get it all done. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. But now these...”
And there it is again: no words. Just a gnashing of teeth, another sigh from somewhere deep in the gut, and a mystified shake of the head.
The missing sleigh and reindeer didn’t cost much, Austin said. “About 79, 80 dollars is all. It’s not the money. It’s just the thought of it. I just can’t understand it.”
She’d shopped at Lowe’s and The Last Straw to acquire the components of her display, which is by far the most visible along the strip of mostly fast-food chains, banks and inns that line the southern entrance to Boone.
She’d even depleted her home display to add to the Mountain House creation.
“I live more hours at the Mountain House than I do at home,” she reasons. “Might as well put them up here where at least I can enjoy them.”
Austin has an unapologetic affinity for bright displays of seasonal spirit. She can’t quite understand why her neighbors have neglected to follow her example.
“I was coming home from Tennessee the other day and passed through Roan Mountain. They had it decorated real nice. It was just beautiful. When I got here it was like driving into Grinchville — not even a wreath to be seen.”
She says she has no expectation of getting her missing sleigh and reindeer back, though she wouldn’t mind.
Just call the Mountain House, she asks, if you have some idea where they might be.
Mostly, though, Austin seeks the answer to one question. “I just want to know why they took it.”
For good measure, she concludes the conversation the way she began it: with a warning and a glint in her eye that suggests she might be at least half serious.
“You tell them next year there won’t be no stealing. I’ll be sitting up on top with a shotgun. And there won’t be no stealing.”