The "Mystical Dragon" statue in front of Naperville Mayor George Pradel's house played a vanishing act early Saturday morning when he says it was stolen from his lawn and thrown over a bridge toward railroad tracks.
Pradel said his wife woke him between 1:30 and 2 a.m. when she heard a commotion and noticed the dragon statue was gone. By the time Pradel came to the window, he said police were on the scene searching for the person or people who took the 5-foot statue Pradel described as "pretty heavy."
"I don't understand why they did it, but it was removed from the front of my house and thrown over the bridge" at Columbia Avenue and Plank Road, Pradel said. "I feel sorry for those guys that felt they had to take that away from the front of my house."
Naperville police Saturday said no one could discuss the incident until Monday morning.
The dragon statue, called "Nighty-Knight," was commissioned during a 2006 public art fundraiser for the Naperville United Way. It was found in some weeds near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, and Pradel said he would inspect it for damage later Saturday.
With his grandson's help, Pradel said he planned to bring the statue back to its perch in his yard.
"I'll have to put some Band-Aids on it," he said.
Pradel's dragon, one of 50 designed, sculpted and painted for display and auction in 2006, holds a miniature statuette of the mayor himself in its left arm and a book called "Goodnight Naperville," in its right. He said the dragon had not been anchored in his yard, although all statues produced during the 2006 fundraiser included a base to attach to the ground.
"It was a fun thing to have out in front," Pradel said about his "Mystical Dragon." "All the kids who go to Ellsworth School, they all say. 'Oh, we like your dragon.' "
Pieces produced for Naperville United Way fundraisers have been damaged and stolen in the past. Heads were cut off giraffes displayed in 2001, the first year the United Way conducted such a fundraiser. Tails were snapped off carousel horses in 2002, and in 2003, a bear made to look like Elvis was stolen and never found.