In the final days of the last-ever Spanktown Road holiday display, cherished pieces of it were stolen from 83-year-old Vincent Poloniak.
For the past 50 years, Poloniak transformed his front lawn into a sprawling holiday experience enjoyed by families near and far. The project takes five weeks and many helping hands to set up. Poloniak decided to retire the tradition this year -- and aimed to make his final show the best yet.
But when he went outside to check the decorations and turn on the lights around 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, Poloniak discovered some of his oldest and most valuable pieces were missing: a light-up set of The Three Stooges, and two choir singers.
Town of Warwick Police were notified and an investigation was opened that evening.
Just hours later, around 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, a suspect was caught on video stealing a rare blow mold of Santa Claus riding a train from Poloniak’s lawn.
In response to the back-to-back larcenies, Poloniak took down the decorations on Jan. 1, a day earlier than planned.
On top of time invested, Poloniak put thousands of dollars toward his Spanktown Road Christmas display over the years. After taking a 2019 hiatus due to health issues, he spent $10,000 on new decorations in 2020 to make the show bigger than ever.
He has hopes to sell the entire collection to a single buyer.
“I feel very upset, hurt, and angry that my dad was violated and taken advantage of,” said Poloniak’s daughter, Paula. “He has done this out of the goodness of his heart for so many years, and for someone to do that to him is very upsetting.”
Just before discovering the first round of stolen decorations last Friday, Poloniak received an award from the Warwick Town Board and Mayor Michael Sweeton for the decades he spent creating a magical Christmas experience for the community.
“For 50 years, Vince has been religiously going out there and creating this magnificent display at his home,” said Sweeton. “We can’t even measure the amount of joy it’s given to people in this community for all those years.”
The larcenies are being investigated by Warwick Town Police who are reaching out to the public for additional information and help identifying the suspect. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Town of Warwick Detective Unit at 845-986-5000.