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updated: 6/4/2013 5:30 AM

Two charged as Pradel's dragon returns home

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  • Naperville Mayor George Pradel said the dragon statue in his front yard was removed early Saturday morning and thrown over a bridge toward the railroad tracks at Columbia Avenue and Plank Road. The dragon, called "Nighty-Knight" by artist Marilyn Dale, was auctioned in 2006 as part of a public art fundraiser for the Naperville United Way. "It was kind of personal for me," Pradel said about the dragon, which carries a miniature statuette of the mayor himself in its left arm and a book called "Goodnight Naperville" in its right.

       Naperville Mayor George Pradel said the dragon statue in his front yard was removed early Saturday morning and thrown over a bridge toward the railroad tracks at Columbia Avenue and Plank Road. The dragon, called "Nighty-Knight" by artist Marilyn Dale, was auctioned in 2006 as part of a public art fundraiser for the Naperville United Way. "It was kind of personal for me," Pradel said about the dragon, which carries a miniature statuette of the mayor himself in its left arm and a book called "Goodnight Naperville" in its right.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Adam Lehnus

      Adam Lehnus

  • Matthew Cavallaris

      Matthew Cavallaris

 
 

A former Neuqua Valley High School wrestling standout and a current North Central College wrestler face a bevy of charges after authorities said they stole the "Mystical Dragon" sculpture from Naperville Mayor George Pradel's lawn and threw it over the Columbia Street bridge onto railroad tracks below.

Matthew Cavallaris, 20, of Naperville and Adam Lehnus, 20, of Bartlett, are both charged with criminal damage to property, theft, underage consumption of alcohol and trespassing on railroad property.

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Pradel said his wife, Pat, woke him between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Saturday after she heard loud noises outside and noticed the dragon was gone.

A short time later, Sgt. Lou Cammisso said police officers noticed Cavallaris and Lehnus "acting suspicious and walking fast as if they were trying to get away" near the area of 5th Street and the Columbia Street bridge.

"The officers stopped the two, investigated the area and found the dragon down on the train tracks," Cammisso said. "Both suspects appeared to be intoxicated and were sweating and breathing heavily from carrying the dragon."

Cammisso said officers immediately alerted railroad officials and removed the statue from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

The sculpture, called "Nighty-Knight," was commissioned during a 2006 public art fundraiser for the Naperville United Way.

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.

Pradel said the dragon had not been anchored in his yard, although all statues produced during the fundraiser included a base to attach to the ground.

Pradel said Monday the dragon has been returned to him and is locked away in his garage until he decides how to go about repairing it.

"It's less damaged than I thought it would be. It's scarred but not totally broken," Pradel said. "The likeness of me that he held in his arm had its head cracked open and the books he held are mangled, though."

Pradel did not know how much the Fiberglass dragon weighed, but said he was impressed with the strength of two men charged with hauling it away.

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