Bendigo bikers have taken the security of the city’s Christmas tree into their own hands.
The Biker Charity Support Group will gather at Rosalind Park each night between now and Boxing Day, after vandals attacked the tree and nearby nutcrackers.
City of Greater Bendigo parks and gardens staff discovered the damage on Friday morning.
But within hours, the BCSG moved to ensure vandals did not return, with five members spending the night in Rosalind Park near Charing Cross.
The following night, 20 members gathered around the tree until the early hours of Sunday morning.
As word spread of their efforts, the Salvation Army arrived with water.
Group member Mathew Gray said the foolish behaviour of some should not spoil Christmas.
“We don’t want kids to come down and be disappointed if things are destroyed,’’ he said.
“People want to see the spirit of Christmas alive in Bendigo.
“One of our members, Richard Spencer, wanted to make sure it was safe for kids and families.’’
City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said it was unfortunate there was a need for the group to gather, but thanked the bikers for their efforts.
“It’s wonderful of them to help look after the community and a really nice thing to do at this time of the year,’’ he said.
“We really appreciate it.’’
Bendigo police Senior-Sergeant Craig Gaffee said the group’s response to the vandalism was driven by goodwill.
“We are happy with what they’re doing,’’ he said.
“But we are not happy people need to guard the tree.’’
The city’s major events manager, Terry Karamaloudis, said the nutcrackers were struck with a heavy object and could not be repaired.
“Utimately, the community pays the cost of replacing them because of the actions of these people,” he said.
“A lot of people spent many hours putting up decorations up to enhance the city’s appeal and to create a positive environment this festive season … so you can imagine the mood is pretty deflated.’’
The bikers will be at the tree during and after tonight’s community Christmas carols in Rosalind Park.