Vandals Destroy Mammoth Dinosaur Sculptures at New Jersey Park

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Last week, New Jersey artist Robin Ruggiero got some bad news about her huge dinosaur sculptures in Allaire State Park. A friend who regularly walks through the park noticed that vandals had ruined Ruggiero’s art pieces and texted her about the destruction. The artist believes that the vandals purposefully ruined her dinosaur sculptures hidden in the park’s woods.

Allaire State Park is in Monmouth County between Howell and Wall Townships. For Ruggiero, the park is a special place that she visited often when enjoying nice days outdoors. A few years ago, she started to create intricate dinosaur sculptures using primarily items she found in the area.

The dinosaurs are made from sticks, branches, twine, bark, and bones. Ruggiero says the creations have been therapeutic and that she’s received overwhelmingly positive feedback on her art pieces from the local community.

However, as early as last Friday, vandals cut down some of her park sculptures, according to NJ Advance Media. At the time of their destruction, Ruggiero had already built several art pieces in the area. They included a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, and a father, mother, and baby Pteranodon. The 54-year-old artist is heartbroken over the destroyed dinosaurs and spoke to the New York Post about the recent damage to her work.

“Whatever their intentions were, they affected a whole community of people,” Ruggiero said to the NY Post.

She explained to the outlet that her sculptures are used by many in the area. The vandals have not only destroyed the sculptures. But they’ve also ruined planned engagement and wedding photo shoots, and high school field trips to the art installation have been cancelled.

“I hope that person heals from whatever ails them,” Ruggeiro said of the unknown vandals.

Artist Hoping to ‘Heal,’ Recreate Sculptures After Vandals Ruin Her Work

The last time she knows that her sculptures were intact was Oct. 6. Yet by the next morning, Ruggiero’s friend notified her about the vandalism. The artist went to Allaire State Park and braced herself for the damage.

“When I got there, they were sliced super clean,” Ruggiero said to the outlet. “The lines that suspend them were cut. I felt like I was attacked.”

The vandals ruined most of the sculptures hidden away in the wooded area. Yet the mama and baby Pteranodons were left unscathed.

“I had a feeling they [the vandals] got interrupted,” Ruggiero shared. “It just seemed odd that they didn’t finish the job.”

During the holiday season in 2019, Ruggiero first began working on her park sculptures. On Dec. 26, she started to build her T-Rex art piece as a way to express herself following a rough patch in her life. The artist had recently sustained a head injury in a car accident. Plus, she was dealing with an abusive partner within her relationship.

“I had come on hard times and didn’t have any money. So I started thinking to myself, ‘What made me happy?'” Ruggiero said to the NY Post.

Ever since the community found out about the vandalized dinosaur sculptures, Ruggiero has received an outpouring of support. Both locals and social media users have reached out with kind words. The artist is saddened by the incident, but is also hoping to recreate her damaged sculptures in the near future.

“I would love to show my gratitude and bring them back  to life. Hopefully, maybe one day I will heal enough to do so,” Ruggiero concluded.