After vandals ruin initial public piano, volunteers step up to install a second

Audrey Caro Gomez

An old piano that mysteriously appeared in the parking lot in front of Safeway during Jamboree weekend was vandalized late last week; by Sunday another was in its place.

Many people posted their outrage about the incident on Facebook; some offered ways to help.

“We were driving by when the boys saw it “down,” said Peggy Rolph of her grandsons, who noticed the piano had been overturned. “They both said ‘pull over, we have to fix it.’ So we did.”

Payton Messmer, 7, and Landon Messmer, 6, had help from their grandpop, Michael Rolph, trying to set the heavy instrument upright.

“Right as the boys were giving it a try, I posted a picture and people were honking at us from the road as they drove by! Lots of support,” Peggy Rolph said.

Unfortunately, they were not able to move the piano on their own.

John Forrest posted on the Sweet Home Community Watch Facebook page that he had a truck if anybody had a piano to donate. As it turns out, Wendy Johnson said the Church of the Nazarene had one.

Next, was a call for help to get the piano to its new home.

“Pianos are heavy!” Forrest noted.

He posted again for assistance: “I will be at the church at (1 p.m.), anyone who would like to help just meet me there and then we will take it and set it up.

“The more people that can show up for this the better to show these people bent on destruction that there are many in this town who care and take pride in Sweet Home.”

When he arrived, there were a couple of people at the church to help load the piano and more than a dozen at Safeway waiting to help unload it.

Forrest doesn’t play the piano and said he didn’t think a whole lot about it until it was toppled over.

“Last week, somebody decided to tear it up,” Forrest said. “People liked it.”

Forrest thinks the first piano, and replacing it, brought the community together a little bit.

“While we were out there unloading, one of the folks at Safeway came out with a shopping cart full of cold drinks,” Forrest said.

Nancy Smith, who also helped with the replacement effort, was impressed with the way people came together. She posted pictures of the process but wasn’t able to tag anyone.

“I didn’t know their names, they just showed up to help,” Smith said.

Forrest said one of the men drove from Corvallis that morning.

The Rolphs and Messmers were out of town but monitored the progress of the replacement process on Facebook.

Smith said she had not played the first piano, but gave this one a try.

“I played the new one,” she said. “I only know “Twinkle Twinkle” and I only played a little bit. It’s been a while.”

As they were pulling away from the location on Sunday, they saw someone head over to the instrument.

“We noticed a teenager went over and started playing it right away,” Smith said.

“He just played for a couple of minutes, got on his skateboard and went on his way,” Forrest added.

The community used Facebook to replace the piano and now the piano has its own Facebook page:

There were so many positive comments, videos and pictures posted to different Sweet Home-related Facebook pages, Novena SlaterRoth thought it would be nice to see them in one spot.

“I asked John via a post if a page had been done,” SlaterRoth said. “He said no, but it was a good idea and ‘go ahead an make one.’ So I did.”

That’s the extent of her involvement, she said. In 10 hours, 77 people had liked the page.

“It’s just a piano, but it seems a lot more than just that,” Forrest said.