HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- An effort to beautify the streets of Holyoke has been ruined.
Holyoke installed volleyball statues around the city, but now, several have been damaged or broken, leaving the manager of the project searching for answers and for help fixing them.
The project's coordinator announced word on Monday that the breast cancer awareness volleyball had been broken. She said it came dangerously close to rolling into traffic at a busy intersection.
It's the fourth volleyball to be damaged, out of 17 installed.
"You know, South Hadley has the tigers, Granby the dinosaurs," said Jordan Hart, project manager with 'Have a Ball in Holyoke.'
What better way to represent what's written on the signs leading into Holyoke than statues of the sport that calls the city home.
"So we really wanted to do something to showcase the city and really bring some beautification," Hart added.
Hart said the giant volleyballs were funded by local businesses over a period of three years.
"We had no problem whatsoever getting 20 businesses on board," Hart explained.
Seventeen fiberglass volleyballs, out of 20, were installed around the city back in late summer of 2018.
In September, Hart said the first one was treated more like athletic equipment than an art project.
"They had just been installed, so that was really hard to kind of grasp. It was kicked off its base and smashed into unfixable pieces," Hart said.
Hart said in the last two to three weeks, three more have been damaged, including one earlier this week on Beech Street. A viewer sent us a picture of the ball, nearly rolling into traffic.
"I don't believe that it's all malicious. I think that a lot of folks don't understand how fragile they are. They're hollow fiberglass structures, so people trying to climb on them, even the slightest nudge could knock it off its base," Hart noted.
Hart is now tasked with finding someone who can help donate the time and resources to fixing the statues, feeling deflated over what she called a lack of appreciation for the project.
"Whoever damaged them didn't really think that somebody painted these, somebody bought these, somebody worked hard to get these out there, so it almost felt like a slap in the face," Hart added.
However, many people in Holyoke are serving up support for the volleyballs.
Dennis Doucette said, "I have tried to go up to each and every ball to read it and check it out and some of them are really fascinating."
"As for art and everything, that means something to people I see it and I was like 'Oh, birthplace of volleyball. That's cool,'" said Jason Roy.
Doucette said of the breast cancer awareness statue, "I'm hoping to see it come back because the awareness that that one imposed is pretty important."
Hoping to see them roll back and represent team Holyoke.
"That's the American spirit. You have to keep trying to keep going," Roy said.
Hart said three of the volleyballs haven't been installed yet and that now, she's considering a GoFundMe to raise money for a repair person to fix the broken ones.