VIDEO: Fisherman Lawn Statue Makes Miraculous Return to Garwood After Boy's Plea
The well-loved statue was stolen last week and has suddenly been returned.
It was a sad day for five-year-old Nicholas Piarulli when he drove past 409 West Street and saw that his favorite lawn statue had gone missing.
"He was distraught," says Nicholas's mom Linda. "He is infatuated with lawn statues. He loves taking pictures next to them. He even dressed up as a lawn jockey for Halloween this year, his idea. One day we passed and there was just a hole in the ground where the fisherman was. Nicholas was beside himself and my husband interviewed him about it on camera."
Nicholas's dad captured his son's adorable reaction to the theft and promptly uploaded it to YouTube. Watch it in our gallery, where you can also see a photo of Nicholas in his lawn jockey costume.
"He has a little yellow coat on with a little fishing whistle," says Nicholas in the video. "I thought they took it out of the ground because it was broken or they didn't want it to get wet, so they took it inside. ... Some naughty kids took it!"
"We drove by and he made me stop the car," says Linda. "The people who live there must think I’m insane. I was going to go ring their doorbell and ask where it went because he was so upset. We weren't sure what happened to it until we read on Patch that it was stolen."
The fisherman has been a resident of 409 West Street since before the property's current owners, Denise and Anthony Ridente, lived there. They still live in Garwood but rent the property. The current tenants, Darrel and Kristen Kaplen, say their eight-year-old daughter Erin was also devastated to find their friend the fisherman had gone missing.
"We've been in Garwood for 17 years and he was there before the people who we bought the house from," Denise Ridente told Patch. "It's a mystery where he came from. Lots of neighborhood kids have always gravitated to him. I think they like that he's their height and they can hug him. I have pictures of my daughters Raina and Carley taken with him over the years. They call him 'the Little Man.'"
Garwood Police took a report of the incident on June 23, but had no leads. We mentioned the theft in last week's police blotter. When we called to ask how the fisherman had come back, it was news to police.
"He just reappeared in the middle of the night on the other side of the street," says Ridente. "No one saw him get dropped off. We're very happy to have him back. I have no idea how someone could move him in the first place. He must weigh 200 pounds. To put him back in his spot took two people."
Perhaps the thieves saw Nicholas's video and felt bad? Nicholas was thrilled to see him back, as you can imagine.
"He saw it and he started yelling," says Piarulli. "He was saying 'It’s back! It’s back! Those naughty kids put it back!' He came home and told everybody. I swear he's going to be the crazy old man with a bunch of lawn statues one day. He's a funny kid."
"The Little Man has been through a lot," says Ridente. "He's been painted. He used to have a little light, too. Maybe whoever took him heard the kids were upset and decided to put him back."
Or maybe the Little Man took advantage of the sunny weather and decided to head out to sea for a fishing trip. Either way, he's back at his post, home sweet home in Garwood.