The Eureka Springs Holiday Decoration Committee today announced increased security measures to discourage pranksters from kidnaping Jesus. The move comes after two concrete cinder blocks tied to 20-inch long statue failed to deter the Jesus nappers last year.
The new baby Jesus was ordered from a Pittsburgh steel factory and weighs 175 pounds. “We’re pretty sure that’s more than the real Jesus weighed as an adult,” said Rick Mott, chairman of the decoration committee.
Over the past several years, the infant statue has been kidnapped from the holiday display numerous times. “I don’t know what they’re doing with all of these Jesus babies,” said Mott. “I knew there was a black market for real babies, but I never would have imagined there’s one for baby Jesuses.”
In previous years the committee has offered rewards for the return of the stolen statues, including tickets to the Great Passion Play. None have been successful. It was discovered at the Crescent Hotel being used as a doorstop in 2004, which led to a short-lived theory that the culprit was a ghost. The Crescent is believed to be haunted by several ghosts.
One city worker injured his rotator cuff while placing the new iron baby Jesus into the manger. It was the first decoration-related injury for Eureka Springs in over ten years. Some residents voiced concern that a face and other features weren’t painted on the black metal figure. According to Mott, the added expense of the iron Jesus meant there weren’t enough funds in the budget for paint.
“Somebody’s got their work cut out for them if they try to take it this year,” said Mott. “It will probably take a fork lift to get that thing out of there after the first of the year.”
Theft of city property is a Class D Misdemeanor and it punishable by a $500 fine plus community service for the first offense. In addition to the fine and community service anyone caught stealing Jesus is require to perform 1500 Catholic Hail Marys on the corner of Spring and Center street.